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Special qualifiers at resort

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Andrea Deitchman and Brooke Laugheed wore blue snow jackets and rode rental snowboards. The two just started snowboarding in January under the tutelage of a hip-talking 21-year-old woman and a 13-year-old seventh-grader.

On Wednesday afternoon, the two athletes stood on top of a snowboard slalom course at Heavenly Ski Resort. If they survived the course, they would move to a state competition in snowboarding.

In addition to their blue jackets, they wore nervous smiles.

On Wednesday at Heavenly, and Camp Richardson Resort, athletes competed in various winter sports for the Northeast Region Qualifier for the Special Olympics. Athletes were vying for a spot at the state Winter Special Olympics at Kirkwood in March.

The time trials were Tuesday, followed by Wednesday’s competition. Downhill skiing and snowboarding were performed at Heavenly while Camp Richardson hosted competition for snowshoers and cross country skiers.

Jody Filgo is the area director for Team Tahoe.

“All the athletes are extraordinary,” she said while the athletes chowed down on barbecued burgers after morning competition. “The athletes are an inspiration.”

Filgo has been the area director for six years. She recalled one athlete last year who lost his father in an auto accident two weeks before the competition. The athlete participated in the Games, won a gold medal and dedicated it to his father.

Michael Cotter and Susie Enos, both downhill skiers for a combined 32 years, sat across from each other at lunch. Cotter enjoyed his dripping hamburger.

“The fattening makes it really good,” he said, “but it’s a healthy food.”

Enos, 33, liked the ski course. Cotter said it was a bit icy, but fast.

“We’re going to take it all the way for Team Tahoe,” Cotter said.

Filgo depended on 120 volunteers on both days to make the event a success. One volunteer was Larry Kendall, 62.

Kendall was the announcer for skiing. His voice was hoarse while he spoke.

“I like to give back to the community since the community has given so much to me,” he said. “These are special people. If we had their energy and enthusiasm life would be a whole lot different than it is today in the world.”

While Kendall spoke, Cotter and Enos walked past.

“Could you speak a little louder next time?” Enos said, joking with Kendall about his announcing skills.

Snowboarding made its second appearance at the Special Olympics this year. Eleven boarders from various places in Northeast California lined up to get a piece of the course. There was only one disqualification for a missed gate.

Deitchman, 19, fell once during her first run. She participated in snowboarding because she wanted a challenge, she said.

She said the most difficult part about boarding is “trying to go on my heels. I can’t do that.”

But after the morning competition, Deitchman and Laugheed wore medals around their necks at lunch. They earned a spot for the state competition at Kirkwood.

“It was a little more difficult than I expected,” Deitchman said. “But it got easier.”


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