Two Alaska athletes are headed to Austria to compete in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Madison Englund, a snowboarder from Fairbanks, and Jennifer Troutman, a skier from Anchorage, and will be among 195 members of Special Olympics Team USA.
“We’re honored to have two athletes from Alaska being part of team USA,” said Jim Balamaci, president of Special Olympics Alaska. “We know that we’re going to do our personal best, and we’re going to try our hardest to bring the gold back to Alaska and make us all proud.”
Englund and Troutman qualified for the winter game through their training and competing in local and state competitions. To prepare for the World Games, the athletes hit the slopes a few times a week, attend dry land training and have been lifting weights.
“I have not been out of the country before,” Troutman said. “This will be my first time, I think as well as Madison’s too.”
“It’s so exciting because we hosted these games in Alaska in 2001,” Balamaci said. “When you talk about pride and tradition, Alaska and Special Olympics is one.”
Englund and Troutman won’t be the only Alaskans in Austria; their coach April Stone will join them and Captain Barry Wilson, an Alaska State Trooper, will carry the Flame of Hope throughout Austria for the opening ceremony, according to Balamaci.
The opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics World Winter Games is March 18 and will be broadcast on ESPN.