Athletes shine at Winter Games |

Athletes shine at Winter Games

Jim Grant/Sun News ServiceSpecial Olympian Philip Sturgeon of South Lake Tahoe eyes the next gate while competing in the advanced giant slalom race on Thursday at Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

“I feel the need, the need for speed,” says Iceman, casually draped between two chairs at the Village at Kirkwood Mountain Resort, his eyes masked by dark sunglasses.

Iceman, otherwise known as 26 year-old Santa Cruz resident Paul Hogue, carries himself with the usual swagger and boastful nature of many of Lake Tahoe’s advanced skiers, combined with an honesty not displayed by most of the area’s fishermen.

“I was going so fast,” Hogue says. “Then I bit it.”

He proudly recounts alpine ski racing battles decided by mere seconds with arch rival, Phil “Maverick” Sturgeon of Team Tahoe, but doesn’t hesitate to describe clipping a gate and losing a ski on his second run during the Advanced Giant Slalom event at the 2007 Northern California and Nevada Special Olympics Winter Games.

“I’m probably the only one who doesn’t mind running up an icy hill in ski boots,” said Hogue.

Nearly 265 athletes from all over Northern California and Nevada gathered at Kirkwood March 12 through 15 to compete in Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowboarding, and Snowshoeing disciplines.

“This is the culmination of the whole season,” said Mary Beth McMahon, Vice President of Special Olympics Northern California and Nevada.

All of the participants in this week’s events qualified through their performances at earlier competitions held at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Bear Valley and Sierra Summit this season.

Next year’s competition looks to be particularly heated, with the gold medal winners earning spots at the 2009 World Special Olympics in Boise, Idaho, according to McMahon.

While a competitive streak was evident in many of the athletes in attendance, it doesn’t take a gold medal or a bluebird powder day to get hoots and hollers out of this crowd.

McMahon described the athletes as people who live their lives through the lens that the glass is always half full.

Many athletes compete year after year. With Kirkwood the site for the Winter Games for the past 11 years, athletes from all over Northern California and Nevada have had the chance to get comfortable with the resort.

“The athletes have gotten to know the employees,” said McMahon, “They start bonding with the staff.”

Michael Stubbs, an 18 year-old Sacramento cross-country skier who has been competing for 7 years, wholeheartedly agreed with McMahon.

“I’ve made good friends here,” said Stubbs.

Michael Cotter:

2nd Place, M2 Advanced Giant Slalom

2nd Place, M2 Advanced Slalom

3rd Place, M2 Advanced Downhill

John Lahti:

4th Place, M2 Advanced Giant Slalom

4th Place, M2 Advanced Slalom

4th Place, M2 Advanced Downhill

Dominic Celado:

2nd Place, M3 Advanced Giant Slalom

1st Place, M3 Advanced Slalom

1st Place, M3 Advanced Downhill

Philip Sturgeon:

3rd Place, M3 Advanced Giant Slalom

2nd Place, M3 Advanced Slalom

2nd Place, M3 Advanced Downhill

Jackie Gilpin:

DQ, F1 Intermediate Giant Slalom

2nd Place, F1 Intermediate Slalom

3rd Place, F1 Intermediate Downhill

Susie Enos:

2nd Place, F2 Intermediate Giant Slalom

2nd Place, F2 Intermediate Slalom

2nd Place, F2 Intermeditate Downhill

Katelyn Tara:

3rd Place, F2 Nordic 100M Classic

1st Place, F2 Nordic 1K Free

2nd Place, F3 Nordic 500M Free

J.D. Langley:

1st Place, M2 Nordic 100M Classic

1st Place, M1 Nordic 1K Free

1st Place, M2 Nordic 500M Free

Kimi Peshon:

1st Place, F3 100M Snowshoeing

2nd Place, F8 200M Snowshoeing

Melissa Ahrens:

1st Place, F8 100M Snowshoeing

Evan Libby:

2nd Place, M4 100M Snowshoeing

3rd Place, M4 200 M Snowshoeing

Kimi Peshon:

1st Place, F1 400 M Snowshoeing

2nd Place, F3 200 M Snowshoeing

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