By Emilie Springer
Homer Special Olympics athletes competed in a snowshoe event Friday ahead of the Alaska state tournament slated for March in Anchorage.
Seven athletes in all ranges participated in the Friday event, which took place at the Bay Crest ski trail field loop by the Homer Department of Transportation facility.
Homer athletes who participated in the race included Mike Daily, Caleb Arndt, Nick Kvasnikoff, Brian Ormond, Christopher Gregoire, Kinna Ledger, Lee Grunstad and Robby Reeves. All of them received awards in the various snowshoe races and qualify for the upcoming state tournament.
The event featured 25-, 50- and 100-meter snowshoe races and one athlete competing in the 400- and 800-meter races.
In the Special Olympics, participants can compete from age 8 to 100, but they are divisioned in gender, age, time and ability.
In other parts of the state other events are available, but for now there is just a snowshoe team in Homer.
“It’s been several years since we have been able to compete in the state meet, so we’re very excited,” said Dana Snyder, assistant coach for the Homer team.
At the state meet, there will be close to 200 athletes competing. The program statewide serves about 2,000 athletes.
The state meet will feature athletes from Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna, Fairbanks, Homer and Valdez, said Emily Tymick, director of sports development and competition, who came down from Anchorage to join the Homer event.
“Usually it’s larger, but COVID had an impact on us, just like everything else,” she said.
Before the start of the event, there was lively music helping the athletes warm up with coach Snyder and lead coach Jaclyn Arndt with Homer Volunteer Fire Department.
“These athletes have been working to build up speed and endurance since early December,” Snyder said in her opening remarks at the meet. “Before we get started we want to give thanks to all the people and organizations who helped make this possible. Kachemak Nordic Ski Club groomed the trails. The Homer Police Department is also here today help support our athletes receive their hard earned awards. And, for everyone else who has supported our practice.”
Emilie Springer can be reached at email@example.com