Photo: Jennifer Gold with an NSCD Special Olympic Athlete      Photo courtesy of NSCD

Three Special Olympic skiers are going to be forerunners this weekend for the 44th Annual Wells Fargo Ski Cup.

Jennifer Gold, Instructor for the National Sports Center for the Disabled and Special Olympics Program Coordinator, said, “I have a passion for teaching and to see the light bulb turn on for a kid or young adult facing a lifetime of intellectual disabilities, it is absolutely and completely fulfilling”.

This year, three Special Olympic athletes are going head to head on the Corporate Challenge race course Saturday morning as forerunners for the big event.  Bragging rights? Maybe! … but the thrill of competition is a big part of the spirit and driving force for Rylan Krems, Schuyler Kropp and Andie Zitek. Each share a passion for life and competition.

Gold works with two special olympic teams, the Denver Parks and Rec Sharks and the Grand County Blizzards. Five times a year, the teams come to Winter Park to train. “A big part of my job is to match volunteers with the athletes. NSCD volunteers do some amazing work. Groups of all abilities and disabilities changing the lives of friends, family members and the participants.”

Special Olympic skier, Rylan Krems, is 19 years old and an intern at Children’s Hospital. She raced 4 years on the Clear Creek High School ski team and is currently enjoying her first season racing with Special Olympics. Schuyler Kropp, 13, is a Denver native who loves all sports, especially ski racing and competitive water polo. Andie Zitek, 27, has been skiing with Special Olympics for 14 years. She competes in the slalom, giant slalom and the super G in the advanced division. Andie has entertained crowds by singing the National Anthem at many Special Olympic events.

The Special Olympic state competition is being held at Copper Mountain March 2nd and 3rd.  Come out to the base of Winter park Resort this weekend and cheer on all the participants for the 44th Annual Well Fargo Ski Cup and maybe a vocal performance by Andie Zitek.