Teams Compete In Special Olympics - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Teams Compete In Special Olympics

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WHITEFISH -

They've put in the hours, driven the miles, and now athletes from across Montana are hoping for the gold in the Special Olympic state games.

It's not just athletes with disabilities on the slopes Monday and Tuesday.

This is Chris Clare's second time in Whitefish for the state games, so he's kind of showing his partner, Jon Wilson, the ropes. They're competing in the Unified Snowshoe event.

"People who have disabilities and non-disabilities can get together and learn about new stuff," explained Clare.

This isn't their first time racing together, though. They also competed in the Bitterroot winter games.

"I'm pretty confident," said Clare.

"What do you think your odds are?" asked a curious journalist.

"Very great!" replied Clare.

More than 300 people are going for the gold this year in four events: snowshoeing, snowboarding, alpine skiing, and cross-country skiing. Each of the events have unified and non-unified divisions.

Preliminary rounds were Monday. They determine the heats for Tuesday's medal races.

"They just wrapped up the world Olympics in Sochi and this is their Olympics. They see the athletes on TV and this is their chance to do exactly what they watch the athletes on TV do," said Jonathan Embler, the vice president of sports and competition for Special Olympics Montana.

Some of the equipment you'll see on the slopes is modified, but Chris and Jon will be using unmodified snowshoes.

"We didn't have a Unified program at our school in the beginning. Did we? I don't think we did, so this would be the first year we've actually done Unified snowshoe or Unified sports at all," said Wilson.

It takes more than 100 volunteers-- each day-- the generosity of sponsors and Whitefish Mountain Resort that has for 19 years donated the venue and helped set up the courses, to pull off a tournament like this, but Clare seems to be enjoying every minute of it.

According to Special Olympics Montana, more than 100 people train as Unified sport partners.

Click here for more information.

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