Bi-lingual background helps White communicate
ITD Senior Right-of-Way Agent Andrew White assisted with staging of alpine skiing events at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho. His assignment was with the Alpine Ski Racing venue at Bogus Basin Ski Area near Boise.
“As a former high school and college ski racer, and later United States Skiing Association Level 1 Ski Coach, I also became fluent in Spanish, mostly as a result of international competition,” he explains.
Alpine racing consisted of three disciplines – Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom.
“It was rewarding to see how multi-lingual these athletes and coaches were. My Spanish came in much more handy than I could have imagined,” White says.
He worked at the start house at the top of the race course where he helped teams, coaches and participating athletes begin in the correct start order. He also helped racers who fell, since they are allowed to get up and complete the course if they were physically capable.
“I assisted many Special Olympics athletes after they fell, and without exception, each and every one got back up, put skis back on and finished the race,” White said.
The displays of courage were made even more inspiring by difficult weather conditions – strong winds, low wind-chill factor, and limited visibility.
“These disastrous falls also revealed the truly amazing character of the Special Olympics athletes, because they would all yell words of encouragement to the fallen skier; they were very supportive of each other to a degree that I have never seen in the sport.
“It was clear to me that the Special Olympics Athletes were more true to the spirit of the Olympic movement than their counterparts, and for one week, regardless of the country you hailed from or the language you spoke, we were all one family – the human family,” White says.
- - - - -
Photos: The Special Olympics team from Austria awaits their start at the top of the Bogus Basin race course (above); medal winners gather for recognition on the ceremony podium at the Alpine Ski Racing venue at Bogus (right).