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2017 Special Olympics Alpine World Games

A big congratulations to Michelle Shuford, of the Asheville, NC Ski Club, a member Club of Crescent Ski Council, on her selection as one of 13 coaches for the Special Olympics Alpine World Games in 2017. She was chosen out of 100 applicants. What an honor!! Michelle has been Crescent’s VP & Spring Conventions Chair over the past 2 years and will be CSC’s Conventions Chair for 2016/17.  Graz and Schladming in Styria, Austria, will host the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.  3,000 Special Olympics athletes from 110 nations will compete in 9 Olympic-type winter sports.  The following is the article from The Asheville Citizens Times, published May 26, 2016 []:

Michelle - Asheville Citizens Times pic

Michelle Shuford of Asheville, seen here near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has been chosen as a coach with the Special Olympics Winter Games in March in Austria.

Michelle Shuford, of Asheville, and Jake Harkey of Boone, both instructors at the French Swiss Ski School at Appalachian Ski Mountain, have been chosen out of more than 100 applicants to serve as coaches at the Special Olympics. “It was a wild hair. I decided to  apply,” said Shuford, who started working as a ski instructor when a  student at Appalachian State University.   After moving to Asheville in 1993, she joined the Asheville Ski Club and began volunteering with the Special Olympics.

Shuford said she was shocked and honored to be chosen to represent the United States and chaperone the country’s skiers at the Special Olympics.

There will be a training camp in December in Killington, Vermont where coaches and athletes will meet. “We’re going to be paired with three or four athletes around the country. We’ll be in charge of pre-training and dry land training, equipment lists, packing lists,” Shuford said. “We’ll be their chaperones and get them to the mountain and while at the mountain, get them assigned to different groups.”

Shuford, who owns Sunrise Sawmill in Oakley with her husband Don, learned to ski at  age 5 at Sugar Mountain Ski Area, and has been a ski instructor for 30 years.   She now  teaches at Ober Gatlinburg and the French Swiss Ski School at Appalachian Mountain.

Special Olympics is the largest international sport movement for people with intellectual disabilities. It offers year-round training and competition opportunities in 32 Olympic disciplines for more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries.   The Winter Games in Austria will have nine  disciplines: Figure skating, speed skating, floor hockey/floorball, snow shoeing, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding and stick shooting.  It is expected to draw 3,000 athletes from 110 countries, 1,100 coaches and assistants and 3,000 volunteers, in addition to thousands of spectators and media, said Rachel McQuiston, vice president of communications for Special Olympics North Carolina. Coaches apply from across the country. They are chosen by Special Olympics USA. “It’s a big honor for them to be chosen,” McQuiston said.

Shuford said the Special Olympics Winter Games brings out a sense of pride and overall happiness that even exceeds the Olympic Games, with coaches who are in it purely for the love of the sport and the athletes, who have developmental disabilities. “It stems from my overall love of ski instructing and seeing that fire getting lit in someone else. The fact is that these folks do have some hurdles they have to overcome in life, and they get out there on the snow and they’re just like everyone else,” Shuford said.

“They get to compete and ski and really enjoy doing it. I really love being able to instill that in them and the ability in them to know they can overcome obstacles. If they can do that in the Special Olympics, they know they can do that in the rest of their lives.”

The Asheville Citizen Times, May 26, 2016

Karen Chávez, 1:41 p.m. EDT May 26, 2016


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