On 23 January, 10 pairs of Special Olympics athletes and professional snowboarders returned for the sixth annual Unified Snowboarding Competition at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado. For the first time ever, six teams of two, including one Special Olympics athlete and one professional skier, competed in the first-ever Unified Skiing Competition at the X Games.
Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete Daina Shilts, a four-time X Games medalist, and Mike Shultz, a three-sport X Games athlete with the most adaptive gold medals in X Games history, won the Unified Snowboarding Slalom with a fast speed of 35.76 seconds. The previous 4-time gold medalist at this event, Henry Meece from Special Olympics Oregon, won bronze alongside Jack Mitrani. Dmitrii Tiufiakov, a Special Olympics Russia athlete who won gold at this event in 2017, and his partner Danny Davis won silver.
In the Unified Ski Slalom, Palmer Lyons, a Special Olympics Colorado athlete who started skiing when he was just three years old, won gold alongside Sochi 2014 Olympics silver medalist Gus Kenworthy. Haldan Pranger and Alex Ferreira won silver, and Kohlor Von Eschen and Sarah Hoefflin won bronze.
The Unified X Games competition was the brainchild of pro-snowboarder Hannah Teter who describes the competition as “a dream come true. It means the world to see how it should be. Everyone should be interacting like this, like at a Unified race. I think it’s an incredible place to showcase that, but it should be standard.” Learn more about how and why she started the Unified X Games competition to promote inclusion in her Game Changer video.
ESPN is the Global Broadcast Partner and the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports®. In 2019, Special Olympics and ESPN extended and expanded their game-changing relationship that has spanned over three-and-a-half decades.
Unified Snowboarding Competition Results
1. Daina Shilts (SOWI/USA) | Mike Schultz: 35.76
2. Dmitrii Tiufiakov (SO Russia) | Danny Davis: 36.02
3. Henry Meece (SOOR/USA) | Jack Mitrani: 36.04
4. Dustin Hollister (SOVT/USA) | Hannah Teter: 37.05
5. Cody Field (SOCO/USA) | Kevin Pearce: 38.21
6. Gonzalo Escobar Wernli (SO Chile) | Scotty Lago: 40.40
7. Micol Jarmolinski (SO Argentina) | Gretchen Bleiler: 42.00
8. Julia Burger (SO Germany) | Anna Gasser: 43.57
9. Latrice Pringle (SOSC/USA) | Chris Klug: 43.63
10. Natsuki Ikemoto (SO Japan) | Kokomo Murase: 47.79
Unified Skiing Competition Results
1. Palmer Lyons (SOCO/USA) | Gus Kenworthy: 31.23
2. Haldan Pranger (SOCO/USA) | Alex Ferreira: 32.83
3. Kohlor Von Eschen (SOCO/USA) | Sarah Hoefflin: 34.71
4. Andrew Carlson (SOCO/USA) | David Wise: 35.10
5. Amanda Leonard (SOCO/USA) | Cassie Sharpe: 42.64
6. Andie Zitek (SOCO/USA) | Maggie Voisin: 43.17