Steamboat athletes celebrate the joy the Special Olympics bring to their lives

Special Olympics Steamboat Springs athletes and coaches gather for a group photo on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at Howelsen Hill. The teams traveled to Copper Mountain March 4-5 for the Special Olympics Winter Games.
John F. Russell / Steamboat Pilot and Today

Members of the Special Olympics Ski and Snowshoe Team waited inside Howelsen Hill Lodge on Wednesday, March 15, for a chance to join their teammates in a photo and celebrate for those who weren’t there.

“We had a mission this year,” said coach Tommy Moore. “We were skating for Sue White. Everyone knows Sue. She was the president of this team, and that was our mission that we set out for this season, and I think we represented her well.”

Moore also said that this year was special for the athletes who participated in the program, who were dedicated to their former teammate who passed away in August 2022. White’s passion for skiing brought her into the spotlight after she got the chance to compete in the alpine skiing events at the World Winter Games. for the 2017 Special Olympics in Austria, where Moore was her coach.

White took center stage this year as a group of 16 athletes competed at the Regional Games in Glenwood Springs in February, and 13 athletes from that group went to Copper Mountain for this month’s Winter Games in Colorado State, which included one athlete. a parade, cauldron lighting, a torch parade, and fireworks, in addition to the actual races

Earlier this month, the alpine and snowshoeing team traveled from Steamboat Springs to Copper Mountain, where they competed in the Winter Special Olympics in Colorado with other athletes from across the state.

Athlete Heidi Brumliffe said her friend’s spirit reached beyond the Colorado Winter Games and can be felt this season during training and at the regional games at Argonaut Farms in Glenwood Springs, where Brumliffe won gold in the 200- and 400-meter events. Part of the team that won the silver medal in the 4 x 100 relay.

Broomleaf was unable to travel to Copper Mountain, but she was sure that Sue White could sense a spirit there as well.

“The Olympics are great,” Brumlev said of the programmes. “I really enjoyed Sue White looking down on me and I really miss her.”

The enthusiasm and energy White brought to the sport fueled the athletes this winter, Moore said, and that White’s memory made this year even more special for those who took to the park.

Moore, who has coached for 20 years, said the Alpine program met on Sundays at Steamboat Resort about six times during the winter. He said the software partners with STARS and has become a Steamboat staple.

Steamboat players Jeff Dockstadder listens to Coach Amy Jenkins before a snowshoe event at the 2023 Special Olympics State Games at Copper Mountain.
Special Olympics Colorado / Image courtesy

The alpine skiing team included Scott Bjorgum, who brought home gold in the intermediate giant slalom and slalom, and a silver in the super-G. Drew Poglioli, who took gold in advanced giant slalom, and silver in slalom and super-G. Taryn Emerson, who took silver in novice slalom, giant slalom, and super-G; Misty Garcia, who took gold in the junior slalom and super-G, and silver in the giant slalom; Rhianna Gifford, who took gold in the intermediate slalom and giant slalom, and silver in the super G slalom; Ian Horning, who took gold in the intermediate slalom, and bronze in the slalom; Logan McLaughlin, who took gold in the intermediate slalom, and bronze in the giant slalom; Amy Pasetti, who took gold in the novice and intermediate super-G giant slalom, and silver in the slalom; and Nevaeh Smith, who finished with gold in the junior slalom and giant slalom, and silver in the super G slalom. Matthew Troeger completed with the team at the Sunlight Regional Games in the snowboarding events, placing first in the slalom and second in the giant slalom, but did not make the trip to Copper Mountain.

“I love skiing with my friends, and I love doing gates,” said Horning, who was competing in his first Special Olympics. “It’s so fun to be with all your friends and family.”

Steamboat athletes, right, Donald Pierce, Jamie Caminchy and Jamie Purcell-Sexton await their chance to compete in the snowshoe events at the 2023 Special Olympics State Games at Copper Mountain.
Special Olympics Colorado / Image courtesy

Horning’s teammate Logan McLaughlin agreed.

“I love skiing, and I love the Special Olympics,” said McLaughlin, who was a four-timer. “I love my teammates, I love (coach) Tommy and I love skating.”

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The snowshoe team entered its second year with four athletes competing, including Jeffrey Duckstadder, who finished second in the 100-meter event. Jimmy Kaminski, who took first place in the 100 and 200; Donald Pierce, who took bronze in the 200 and 400; and Jamie Purcell Sexton, who took silver in the 100 and 200.

Four Steamboat snowshoes at the Colorado State Games joined forces to place third in the 4×100 relay. Jeffrey Turner, who took gold in the 200 and third in the 400, was also unable to travel to Copper Mountain for the Colorado State Games, though. Although he was part of the silver medal winning relay team at the regional games.

Athlete Scott Borgum watches the lighting round at the 2023 Special Olympics Colorado Winter Games March 4-5 at Copper Mountain.
Special Olympics Colorado / Image courtesy

The team is coached by Amy Jenkins, Suzanne White, and Sarah Grace Jordan, an employee of Horizons Specialized Services.

“We have three rules — have fun, try hard and have fun. If you’re not having fun, we need to talk about it. If you’re not trying hard, we’ll talk about it,” Jenkins said. “But we’ll always have fun and try hard — and we sure will have fun.”

Coach White said that being part of a team doesn’t necessarily mean an athlete has to participate in the Special Olympics, because that’s their choice.

Drew Poglioli crashes his fists with a fellow athlete on the podium at the Special Olympics Winter Games in Colorado on March 4-5, 2023.
Special Olympics Colorado / Image courtesy

“We started with the Horizons Adventure Club and are building from that,” said Jenkins. “Some athletes choose to participate in the Special Olympics from the Horizons Adventure Club, and this year we had six in-district and four in-state.”

Both the Alpine and Snowshoe programs run throughout the winter with the athletes meeting to train and looking forward to the State Games at the end of the year. In addition to training, the programs include warm-up exercises, nutrition and other important lessons for athletes.

But at the end of the day, this program is about more than just sports.

“This is more than just skiing,” said Moore. “That’s beyond the snow—it’s just the friendships that are timeless, the camaraderie between each of the athletes… The state has always been one of the biggest events that all of these guys look forward to, and most of these athletes from all over the state don’t see each other for a whole year until we meet.” together in the state.”

Logan McLaughlin celebrates during the 2023 Special Olympics Winter Games, which are held March 4-5 at Copper Mountain.
Special Olympics Colorado / Image courtesy