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The spirit of competition stays strong

When I look at competitive sports, I’m reminded how extremely competitive it gets.

It isn’t for the people who are half-hearted about it. It’s for the people who want it.

To hear a group of racers discuss the next athlete to be dropped from the pack isn’t feel-good athletics. There is no “Pollyanna” attitude in competitive sports, but there does exist camaraderie.

In Special Olympics, however, sports and recreation is used to increase independence and quality of life for individuals with physical disabilities. While very few special Olympians reach the high achievement of international competition, they are all driven beyond their limitations by the challenge of sports.

Special Olympics aquatics program will begin on Tuesday, April 12, at the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center. The athletes will practice every Tuesday and Thursday, from 6-7 p.m., for the entire month.

A mother of a child with special needs once described the importance of participation in disability sports in terms of rebuilding lives. She said, “When your life has been turned upside down by a disability, you need success and you need accomplishments. Participation in sports rebuilds — both a rehab tool and a lifestyle tool.”

In short, the importance of Special Olympics for the athlete is to discover that you have arrived and have overcome — that you have achieved your goals, which you thought to be possible only in your dreams. My thanks to the volunteers who play a part in making the dream a reality.

The Pagosa Lakes swim team will also be in the water, starting on Monday, April 11. Their training schedule will be Monday through Thursday, from 4:-5:30 p.m. Depending on the number of swimmers in the water, the whole pool may need to be set aside for the swim team. However, the hot tub and kiddie pool will remain open.

The 2011 NASTAR National Championships was held at Winter Park on March 24-27. NASTAR?(an?acronym?for?NAtional?STAndard?Race) is the world’s largest known recreational?ski?and?snowboard?race program. ?It allows ski or snowboard racers of all ages and abilities, through a handicap system, a way to compare themselves with one another and with the national champion, regardless of when and where they race.

Since the program’s beginning in?1968, more than 6 million NASTAR racer days have been recorded. ?It has been available at more than 100?ski resorts?in?North America, including the Wolf Creek Ski Area. Many?U.S. Ski Team?stars got their start ski racing in NASTAR programs.

Pagosans Jason Cox, Kevin Anderson and Larry Fisher were among the 1,200 racers from across the United States who qualified to compete at the three-day event for national titles. In order to qualify for the NASTAR National Championship, each competitor must race at a local ski area and finish in the top three in each age group and division (Bronze-Silver-Gold-Platinum). There?were?over 90,000 trying to qualify for the national championships.

Fisher raced very well, finishing 11th overall in the nation in?his age group. Cox had?fast races?on?his first time racing this type of venue and?finished fifth overall in his division. Anderson also did very well and podiumed with a bronze — third in the nation.

Wow! What a great finale for the ski season.

Speaking of snow, it is rapidly melting in the lower elevations, and those who enjoy the outdoors are starting to eye the trails. Trails in the Turkey Springs area, although mostly clear of snow, are still muddy. Allow them to dry out before you take your bike or horse on it. Be a responsible user. Horse traffic on muddy trails will create holes so deep that hikers and runners risk breaking or twisting an ankle in them all summer long.

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