Winter Games Still On For Next Weekend


The lack of snowfall around the state isn't slowing Special Olympic officials as they prepare for the 2000 Winter Games.

As originally scheduled, the games will be contested Feb. 18 and 19 except for a few changes.

The site of the downhill skiing -- to which Payson will send four representatives -- has been changed from the Snowbowl near Flagstaff to Apache Sunrise, which has snowmaking machines.

The remainder of the events, floor hockey, Alpine skiing and figure and speed skating, will remain in Flagstaff.

Cross country skiing is the lone fatality of the Olympics. Originally scheduled for Flagstaff, the event has been canceled.

Payson's four representatives to downhill skiing -- Tim Self, Michael Gilles, Ken Titus and John Sexton -- have been practicing twice a week at Frontier Elementary School under the tutelage of local SO coordinator Becky Derwort.

At FES, there is practice equipment that simulates actual skiing conditions.

Among the speed skaters set to represent the Rim country are Tim Meeske, Gary Bonn and Tommy Haskins.

Local figure skaters are Melody Montbleau, Chrissy Wiley, LeAnn Gilles, Debbie Tedford, Sarah Pierce and Dana Qualls.

In the Winter Games, local athletes will be joined by an estimated 500 other participants from around the state.

According to SO officials, the program in Arizona benefits more than 7,000 athletes through year-round programs of athletic training and competition in 22 sports.

"For people with mental retardation, the benefits of training are found in their everyday life. With Special Olympics, there is no off season," SO Arizona coordinator Julie Ann Borgsmiller said.

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