X Games Aspen 2017 -- Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding
Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding returns to X Games
For the third straight year, ESPN and Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding invited a cross section of Special Olympics athletes to compete at X Games Aspen. Special Olympics athletes from around the world were paired with X Games athletes to compete as unified teams in a dual slalom race. The teammates' scores are combined to determine their final rankings. This year, the event returns to X Games Aspen 2017. Here's a look at the teams assembled to compete.
Daina Shilts and Hannah Teter
Hannah Teter (center and right), who is a global ambassador for Special Olympics and a six-time X Games Aspen medalist, counts the competition as one of her all-time favorites. Teter competes with Daina Shilts (left), who has been competing in the race at X Games since 2015, and the duo has scored podium spots the past two years and is aiming to repeat this year. "It's an amazing feeling knowing you're at the X Games -- not only watching but competing," Shilts said. "I love it. I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Chris Perdue and Danny Davis
Chris Perdue's (right) first experience with Special Olympics was snowboarding at Special Olympics Indiana's Winter Games. From there, he got involved in basketball, athletics, softball and powerlifting. Perdue is shy at first, but once he gets to know people, he opens up. He has a positive attitude and a great sense of humor, which should work well with his partner, X Games Snowboard SuperPipe sensation Danny Davis (left). Davis competed in the race in 2015 and is back for 2017.
Takeshi Hashimoto and Yuki Kadono
Takeshi Hashimoto (left) hails from Nippon, Japan, and is paired with X Games Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air competitor Yuki Kadono (right). Hashimoto has pursued snowboarding for 13 years and has been employed by Toyota for the past eight years. "My parents and family, including my two older sisters, friends from Special Olympics and my work, have supported me," Hashimoto said. "The job with Toyota and Special Olympics are too important for me to leave." Yuki Kadono is no stranger to X Games competition (or the Olympics, for that matter) and is sure to leave a mark on the slopes of Buttermilk Mountain.
Andre Berg and Silje Norendal
Andre Berg (right) is overjoyed to be selected and coming back to participate in X Games Aspen 2017. Andre loves new adventures and the kick that snowboard gives him when competing. Special Olympics Norway currently does not offer snowboarding, but that has not stopped Andre from competing and working on his skills. Joining Berg on the slopes is fellow Norwegian X Games competitor Silje Norendal (left), who competes in Women's Snowboard Slopestyle later in the week.
Semen Ferotov and Jamie Anderson
Semen Ferotov's first high performance was at the 2009 National Competitions in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He won three distances in the discipline of Snowboard: slalom, the giant and super giant. Ferotov then became a member of the Russian National Team to participate in the 2009 World Winter Special Olympics Games, and he won two gold medals and one bronze medal. As a result of the All-Russia Games of the Special Olympics in Alpine Ski and Snowboard 2016, Ferotov (left) became a member of the Russian National team to participate in the 2017 World Winter Olympics in Austria. Ferotov is partnered with Women's Snowboard Slopestyle competitor Jamie Anderson (right), a veteran of the Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding competition.
Nikolas Beer and Kevin Pearce
Nikolas Beer (left) lives in a residential community in his hometown of Klagenfurt, Austria. He is a quiet person but also ambitious in sport and very dedicated. Beer was the Athlete of the Year in his home country in 2016, and he is well-prepared for the X Games and the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria. Beer is partnered with X Games Snowboarding legend Kevin Pearce (right).
Mario Horn and Anna Gasser
The 33-year-old Mario Horn (right) utilizes Special Olympics Austria as a very important social and sport platform for himself, and it gives him the opportunity to snowboard. Through Special Olympics, Horn has met other athletes from throughout Austria and abroad, and he is considered humble but ambitious in his pursuits. Because of his Special Olympics activities, he is well-known in the region and integrated in the community. Horn is partnered with Women's Snowboard Slopestyle competitor Anna Gasser (left).
Craig Muhlbock and Scotty James
Australian athlete Craig Muhlbock (right) first joined Special Olympics 14 years ago. He became a member of his local club, Sydney South, and joined the swimming and athletics program. Muhlbock has participated in Special Olympics Snowboarding events the past seven years and competed at two National Games and the 2013 World Winter Games in South Korea, winning three silver medals at Pyeonchang. Coming into X Games Aspen 2017, Muhlbock is partnered with Men's Ski SuperPipe competitor Scotty James (left). Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding kicks off X Games Aspen 2017 at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday. Don't miss it!