SULA — It was a spectacular day at Lost Trail Powder Mountain because the Bitterroot Winter Special Olympics are back after a three year hiatus.
Due to Covid, the games have not taken place since 2020.
The special Olympians came from all around Western Montana to compete in cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
The games kicked off on Tuesday, March 7th with an opening ceremony, practice trials, a dinner, and a dance.
On Wednesday, March 8th, the competitions, medal awards, horse carriage rides, and closing ceremonies took place.
Athletes, organizers, and volunteers all share a similar love and enthusiasm for the event. Even Smoky the Bear came to join in on the fun.
“It’s beautiful," shared athlete Melissa Allen.
“Euphoric, people [with] smiles everywhere,” said 37 year volunteer, Marsha Hennequin.
“Run fast have fun," exclaimed athlete Kyle Fortner.
“Groovy-toovy, hunky-dory, and very blessed," happily said volunteer CJ.
To make the day even more exciting, it was also the Bitterroot Winter Special Olympics’ 40th birthday!
On this milestone, Bitterroot Winter Special Olympics founder Randy Hodgson shared, “I couldn’t keep the tears from rolling down my face”
Hodgson continued, “I mean, the thing that is really cool is to have watched some of these athletes barely be able to ski or or walk on skis [and] now they’ve evolved to downhill skiing. And their social skills have improved; they’ve got friends that they always come back and look for. So, it’s got lots of rewards in many areas other than just on the snow.”
It’s the joy brings people to back to the event year after year,
“This is about my fifth year, sixth year, something like that, and I won’t quit," volunteer CJ told MTN.
The athletes got to stand victorious on the podium and left with a ribbon or medal.
To join in on the fun by volunteering or coaching you can call (406) 363-3028 or go to https://www.facebook.com/BitterrootWinterSpecialOlympics/.