Jan. 26, 2016
For the third year, Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding returns to X Games Aspen. This year's Special Olympics competitors also will be competing in March at Special Olympics World Games in Austria. We sat down with return-contender Daina Shilts, who has competed in the last two Unified events paired with X Games Gold medalist and Special Olympics ambassador Hannah Teter. The duo took Silver in the 2015 Unified competition and Bronze in 2016.
You're back for your third X Games competition - how are you feeling?
The best of the best compete at X Games and I'm so excited I get to be part of it again. I'll be fighting for Gold this year! I'm also thrilled to get to compete with Hannah again. She is the coolest person in the world, and has been one of my best friends since we met at Special Olympics World Games in Korea.
What competitions are you taking part in during the Austria Games? How has training gone?
I'll be competing in the Giant Slalom and Super Giant Slalom in Austria. The training is going great! While we only have "hills" here in Wisconsin, I get on the slopes every chance I get.
What impact has Unified Sports had on your life?
Unified Sports has been a huge part of my life. I've made incredible friends. The best part is that no one is judging us. Middle and High School were not easy for me, and Unified Sports gave me the important outlet I needed.
Whether it be X Games, Special Olympics World Games, or other Unified Sports competitions, I'm so thankful to ESPN for giving Special Olympics athletes the opportunity to show the world that while we might have to work a little harder, we're the same as any other athlete.
As part of our Shred Hate bullying prevention program, we're asking athletes if they have any advice to youth who may be experiencing bullying or see bullying online or at school. Based on your experience, what advice do you have?
My advice is to talk to someone. Find a friend, a teacher, a parent - you don't have to go it alone. Help is out there. I wish I had done this when I was school.