Press Release/ESPN: In 2020, Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding will return for its sixth year at X Games Aspen and Unified Skiing will make its debut. Teams will be comprised of one professional action sports athlete, including X Games and Olympic medalists, and one Special Olympics action sports athlete for a total of ten, two-person teams in snowboarding and six, two-person teams in skiing.
Each of the team members will take one run on each of the two competition courses, with the professional athletes racing against one another and the Special Olympics athletes racing one another. The combined best times of each team will determine the results.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. ESPN is the Global Broadcast Partner of Special Olympics and the Global presenting sponsor and official media sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports.
WHEN: Thursday, January 23 at 10:30 a.m. MT
WHERE: The Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding and Skiing course is located above the start of the Big Air course at X Games Aspen (Buttermilk Mountain).
WATCH: The event will be streamed live on @XGames Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
WHO: Sixteen Special Olympics athletes and 16 of the world’s top action sports athletes.
Confirmed Special Olympics and professional action sports athletes competing in Unified Snowboarding include:
|Latrice Pringle (Florence, S.C.)||Chris Klug (Aspen, Colo.)|
|· Competes in alpine skiing, athletics, basketball, softball, snowboarding, tennis, and volleyball with Special Olympics · In 2018, Latrice won the Rex Maynard Award for Outstanding Sportsmanship at THE SPUD tennis tournament held each year in Belton, South Carolina||· After receiving a liver transplant in 2000, he went on to compete in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games and win a bronze medal in Parallel Giant Slalom · Won a bronze medal and lit the torch at the 2002 National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games|
|Cody Field (Centennial, Colo.)||Kevin Pearce (Norwich, Vt.)|
|· Won three gold medals at the Special Olympics World Winter Games Pyeong Chang 2013 · Recognized as 2012 Colorado Athlete with a Disability Award||· Founder of Love Your Brain Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of life for people affected by brain injury · Owns two X Games medals in SuperPipe and one in Slopestyle|
|Gonzalo Escobar Wernli (Peñalolen, Chile)||Scotty Lago (Seabrook, N.H.)|
|· Loves snowboarding and going to the gym · Dreams of competing at the Special Olympics World Winter Games · Works in the kitchen of a coffee shop in Chile||· Has won four X Games medals from three disciplines, including one gold in Best Method · After winning the halfpipe bronze at the 2010 Sochi Winter Games, his family’s ice cream shop named a flavor after him, called “The Bronze Run”|
|Henry Meece (Portland, Oregon)||Jack Mitrani (Long Island, N.Y.)|
|· Placed first in Unified Dual Slalom at X Games Aspen four times (2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019) · Represented Special Olympics USA at the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017||· Host of X Games Aspen 2020 · Co-owner and producer of Frendly Gathering music festival · Graduate of Stratton Mountain School|
|Natsuki Ikemoto (Nagano, Japan)||Kokomo Murase (Gifu, Japan)|
|· A dual sport athlete, competing in both snowboarding and swimming · Won two silver medals and one bronze medal in swimming at the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015||· Youngest athlete ever to win gold in a winter X Games event (X Games Norway 2018) · Started snowboarding at age four and competing at age nine|
|Dustin Hollister (Searsburg, Vt.)||Hannah Teter (South Lake Tahoe, Calif.)|
|· Has attended the Special Olympics Vermont State Games four times in addition to the Windham, N.Y. Unified Races · Graduated from the same high school as legendary snowboarder Kelly Clark||· Six-time X Games medalist, including one gold in 2004 at age 16 · Dedicated to humanitarian issues – the profit of her maple syrup “Hannah’s Gold” goes to bringing fresh water to a community in Kenya|
|Daina Shilts (Neillsville, Wisc.)||Mike Schultz (St. Cloud, Minn.)|
|· Won four gold, five silver and two bronze medals at the Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013 and Austria 2017 · Was part of the Special Olympics USA Games 2018 TV talent team for ESPN, as the first female with an intellectual disability to serve as an analyst||· Three-sport X Games athlete with the most adaptive gold medals in X Games history (eight between SnoCross Adaptive and Moto X Racing Adaptive) · Above-the-knee amputee who created his own knee and prosthetic leg to accommodate his activities|
|Micol Jarmolinski (San Martín de los Andes, Argentina)||Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, Colo.)|
|· Has been skiing since she was six and took up snowboarding shortly after that · Brother is a snowboard instructor and coaches her regularly||· Has five medals in X Games Snowboard SuperPipe, including four gold · Helped create an all-female superpipe competition at Snowmass, Snow Angels Invitational|
|Dmitrii Tiufiakov (Revda, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia)||Danny Davis (Highland, Mich.)|
|· Won gold in giant-slalom at the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017 · Won gold at X Games Aspen 2017 in Dual Slalom Unified Snowboarding||· Won back to back SuperPipe gold medals in 2014 and 2015 · Created Peace Park, an invite-only, five-day “contest” with no scores on a unique, skatepark-influenced course|
|Julia Burger (Kirchzarten, Germany)||Anna Gasser (Innsbruck, Austria)|
|· Competed at the Special Olympics Germany Winter Games · Has been with the same coach and trainer since she began snowboarding seven years ago||· Five-time X Games medalist, including three gold · First woman in action sports to land a triple cab underflip on the Stubai Glacier in her home country, Austria|
Confirmed Special Olympics and professional action sports athletes competing in Unified Skiing include:
|Amanda Leonard (Aurora, Colo.||Cassie Sharpe (Comox, BC, Canada)|
|· Participates in alpine skiing, aquatics and bowling with Special Olympics · Works at the Special Olympics Colorado office once a week||· Defending X Games Aspen Ski SuperPipe gold medalist · Known for back-to-back 900s and was the first woman to land a switch cork 720 in competition|
|Haldan Pranger (Lakewood, Colo.)||Alex Ferreira (Aspen, Colo.)|
|· Competes in 12 different sports with Special Olympics, but is most passionate about alpine skiing · Part of the Athlete Leadership Program and a Fitness Captain with Special Olympics Colorado||· Finally took his first gold in X Games Ski SuperPipe last year after eight appearances · An Aspen native, Alex graduated from Aspen High School in 2013|
|Andrew Carlson (Littleton, Colo.)||David Wise (Reno, Nev.)|
|· Was Homecoming King at Arapahoe High School · Attended Eastern New Mexico University and received two certifications in Food Service and Child Care||· Husband, father and four-time X Games Aspen SuperPipe champ, Wise is also the 2014 and 2018 Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe · Gave his first TEDx talk at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2019 about mental toughness|
|Kohlor Von Eschen (Boulder, Colo.)||Sarah Hoefflin (Geneva, Switzerland)|
|· Participates in basketball, soccer, flag football, softball and alpine skiing with Special Olympics · Currently a student in the Transitions Program through his local school district||· A late bloomer, Sarah Hoefflin was a weekend ski warrior until she graduated from university in 2013 and earning a neuroscience degree · Now owns two X Games medals, one gold and one silver|
|Palmer Lyons (Parker, Colo.)||Gus Kenworthy (Telluride, Colo.)|
|· Started skiing when he was just three years old · Joined Special Olympics Colorado’s Alpine Racing Team in January 2013 and for the past two seasons has been the fastest racer of all participants at the Special Olympics Colorado Winter Games||· Medaled in all four X Games 2016 events he entered: Slopestyle and SuperPipe silver at Aspen 2016 and Big Air and SuperPipe bronze at X Games Oslo 2016 · An LGBT activist and was on the most recent season of American Horror Story: 1984 · Serves as Shred Hate spokesperson, helping X Games with anti-bullying initiatives|
|Andie Zitek (Denver, Colo.)||Maggie Voisin (Whitefish, Mont.)|
|· Has been part of Special Olympics since she was 13 years old, and her brother was her first Special Olympcis coach · She works as a teacher’s aide at an early learning center||· In 2018 she became the first American woman to win X Games Ski Slopestyle gold since the discipline debuted in 2009 · Her hometown, Whitefish, holds an annual “Ski With Maggie Day”|