As one of only 10 Special Olympics athletes, Wisconsin’s own Daina Shilts, 24, was chosen to participate in Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding Races as part of this year’s X Games in Aspen, Colorado on Thursday, January 22 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. CST. Watch Shilt’s heartfelt reaction as she receives the news the day after her birthday!
“I couldn’t breathe when I read the letter! I jumped up and down, screaming…I am so pumped, I cannot wait,” she said. “I always take off from work to watch the X Games and now I’m going to be in it! I am counting down the days until I snowboard in Colorado for my first time.”
Shilts will compete in the Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding Dual Giant Slalom competition on a team with an X Games athlete on Buttermilk Mountain. The event combine athletes – with and without intellectual disabilities – as teammates to showcase the power of Special Olympics’ Unified Sports®, which helps unite communities and foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion.
Shilts has seven years of snowboarding experience and has been involved in Special Olympics for 17 years, participating in a variety of sports. Shilts competed in snowboarding at the 2013 Special Olympics Winter World Games in South Korea where she brought home one gold and two silver medals.
“I don’t know what I would do without Special Olympics,” she said. “I went to the Special Olympics World Games in 2013 and now I get to go to the X Games. Without Special Olympics I wouldn’t be doing any of this.”
Shilts also had the amazing opportunity to partner with her role model, Hannah Teter, an Olympic Snowboard SuperPipe gold medalist in the Unified Sports Races during the World Games. Teter is also one of the athletes competing in the X Games.
Sue Jodarski, a teacher from Neillsville, has coached Shilts for 12 years and will accompany her to the X Games. The two learned to snowboard together. Jodarski has watched Shilts become an advanced in her abilities on the hill.
“She’s progressed so far. She’s faster than me now!” She took to [snowboarding] and now she takes off like a little rocket,” she said. “She’s quite a competitor. What makes her so good is her dedication. She’s at the hill whenever they’re open. She’s just bouncing around, so excited to go to the X Games.”
The X Games will be held January 22-25. This is the 14th event the X Games has held in Aspen Snowmass, Colorado; the Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding races were first held last year. Fans are invited to support Daina on her trip to Colorado by visiting /daina
This winter action sports and youth lifestyle festival in Buttermilk Mountain will include an expanded and fully-medaled adaptive sport lineup. The return of Snowmobile HillCross and Speed & Style will showcase the talents of more than 200 world-class athletes from around the globe.
X Games Aspen 2015 – with live coverage on ESPN and ABC and an extensive array of content across digital platforms – is also presenting on Thursday, Jan. 22. ESPN and ABC will televise a combined 16 hours of live X Games Aspen 2015 competition. Forthcoming details on the X Games athletes, full competition schedule, music and more will be available on www.xgames.com at a later date. ESPN is the global presenting sponsor and official media sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports® and also the global media partner for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles next summer.