Special Olympics athletes prepare for winter games

    Snowshoeing practice at Fort Missoula as the athletes prepare for the Special Olympics at Lost Trail.

    Tuesday marks the start of the 38th annual Winter Special Olympics that runs through Wednesday.

    But there is more to these athletes than competition.

    “Boy, it's pretty awesome, you meet a lot of great people and just having fun,” said Zach Roberts, a competitor.

    The group from Missoula has been training at Fort Missoula for months in preparation for this week.

    "It's the most fantastic time and place where everyone gets to compete and try and win their medals,” said Austin Hurd, a competitor.

    Missoula’s coach, Tim Weber, knows how much work the athletes have put in and enjoys seeing them thrive.

    “To show their ability, and when they cross that line the smiles and the jumping around they do,” said Weber.

    Roberts has been competing for three decades in Special Olympics and remembers fondly the memories he shares with everyone.

    “Always out there to have fun and get those medals and raise them up high saying, ‘We did it,’” said Roberts.

    The events get underway at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Lost Trail. Athletes have the opportunity to qualify for nationals.

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