With the Special Olympics World Winter Pre-Games underway in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau, Austria, Special Olympics Great Britain are showing their stuff with a pair of men’s downhill skiers going 1-2 on the slopes in the Super Giant Slalom. Stefan Nakoneczny claimed gold, while Wayne McCarthy earned silver.
Nakoneczny’s gold medal run was in a time of 1.20.06, and built on success he had earlier in the competition where he won a silver in the Giant Slalom event. McCarthy was only a second behind his teammate in his silver medal run.
Head coach Keith Grimes was quoted by Special Olympics Great Britain as saying of their performance, “The SOGB skiers will have probably never had to race in the conditions that we’ve had in Austria this week. The heavy snow was a real test of character and technique and Stefan and Wayne did really well to come back with a gold and two silvers between them.”
Special Olympics World Winter Pre-Games is a lead up to the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017, scheduled to take place in March of that year. Nine sports are the program for the eight-day event. 3,000 athletes from 110 different countries are expected to participate.
Some Special Olympics competitors also compete in INAS events. Some skiers may be using this as a warm-up for the 2016 INAS World Alpine & Nordic Skiing Championships in Zakopane, Poland at the end of February. In the past year and a half, INAS and the IPC have both been looking at alpine and Nordic skiing classification for sportspeople with intellectual disabilities. The goal is to potentially make an ID classification for medal contention on the Winter Paralympic program.