MINNEAPOLIS (Oct. 24, 2012) — Special Olympics Minnesota is thrilled to announce that three athletes and a coach from Minnesota will travel to South Korea for the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games Jan. 29 to Feb. 5, 2013.
The delegates will be among the 209 members of Special Olympics Team USA including 151 athletes, 44 coaches, four medical personnel and management team members from around the United States.
This is the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games. It will unite nearly 3,300 athletes from 112 countries in PyeongChang and Gangneung, South Korea. More than 15,000 family, friends, volunteers and spectators are expected to attend.
In the heart of the competition in South Korea, will be Minnesota’s own Becky Curtis, Rob Kendle, GretchenCourtnage-Danielson and Eleanor Taylor.
Becky Curtis, of St. Louis Park, will compete in figure skating. Becky has been a Special Olympics Minnesota athlete since 1987 and has competed in soccer, swimming, gymnastics and figure skating. Becky has many achievements, including taking home gold in figure skating at the 2011 Special Olympics Minnesota Winter Games. Becky, who refuses to wear the same outfit twice, will be sure to sport a new costume as she glides across the ice and impresses the judges in South Korea.
Rob Kendle, of St. Paul, will compete in alpine skiing. At age 31, Rob Kendle has 22 years of experience, memories and talents following him into the 2013 World Winter Games. During his time with Special Olympics Minnesota, Rob has competed in bowling, skiing, softball, flag football and golf. He says skiing is his favorite sport because he craves the adrenaline rush from the fast speed and the freedom he feels when his skies touch the snow. Rob’s passion for skiing has won him gold, silver and bronze medals. The St. Paul native will spend the next several months perfecting his technique and anxiously waiting to hit the South Korean slopes.
Gretchen Courtnage-Danielson, of Minnetonka, will compete in alpine skiing. Gretchen has been a Special Olympics Minnesota athlete since 1999. The 25-year-old has competed in downhill skiing, figure skating and gymnastics. Gretchen first hit the slopes during a school field trip in second-grade. As she flew down the hill, she lost her balance and fell at the icy bottom. Unfazed by the incident, Gretchen brushed off the snow and tried again. This unfaltering determination and refusal to give up will guide Gretchen as she skies for gold.
Eleanor Taylor, of Plymouth, will coach Team USA figure skating. After Eleanor learned of her daughter’s intellectual disability, she decided to become a figure skating coach for Special Olympics Minnesota. Since 1985, Eleanor’s personal goal, as a coach, has been to show athletes that they are capable of achieving more than they ever dreamed they could achieve. She believes the key to coaching is breaking down jumps and spins into “micro-steps.” By reintroducing the move one-step-at-a-time, Eleanor helps athletes piece together a perfect double-axle, and in return builds the athlete’s confidence.
In preparation for the World Winter Games, Special Olympics Team USA athletes and coaches will attend a training camp in Albany and Lake Placid, New York, December 10-14, 2012. The training camp will be the first time the Special Olympics Team USA delegation will be together prior to the 2013 World Winter Games. The camp will offer a variety of team building activities and sport-specific training in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, speed skating, figure skating, floor hockey and floor ball demonstration.
Special Olympics Minnesota offers children and adults with intellectual disabilities year-round sports training and competition. Through Special Olympics’ athletic, health and leadership programs, people with intellectual disabilities transform themselves, their communities and the world.
For more information on Special Olympics Minnesota’s local Special Olympics Team USA athletes, contact Kristin VanHeel, Marketing & Communications Associate, Special Olympics Minnesota at 612-604-1257 or[email protected].
Every two years, the world transcends the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion to come together the Special Olympics World Games. Alternating between summer and winter Games, this event is the flagship event of the Special Olympics movement, which promotes equality, tolerance and acceptance around the world. More than 4 million Special Olympics athletes train and compete in more than 170 nations across the globe.
The Special Olympics World Games features challenging and inspiring international competition among thousands of athletes, making it the world’s second-largest sports event, after the Olympic Games. The culmination of years of athletic training and competition, the World Games bring together adults and children with intellectual disabilities to compete on the world’s great athletic stages.
Today, Special Olympics offers athletes 32 Olympic-type sports including seven winter sports: alpine skiing, cross country skiing, figure skating, short track speed skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing, floor hockey and demo sport floorball.