On March 18, 2017, more than 2,500 athletes from 107 countries will gather in Austria for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games. For the next week they will show the world their talent, bravery, determination and spirit. One of those athletes is Jennifer Troutman. She is a member of the Special Olympics USA alpine skiing team and will be competing in the Giant Slalom and the Super Slalom. Special Olympics is a partner of the Together Counts™ program for healthy, active living. I had the privilege to work with Jennifer on this post and interview her about how she prepares for the Special Olympics World Winter Games and manages to stay fit all year round, even in the offseason.
How long have you been involved in Special Olympics and how did you get started? I have been with Special Olympics for 11 years. I started with Partners Club bowling in 2006. [Partner Club is a school program for people with and without intellectual disabilities]. Then my freshman and sophomore year of high school I did bowling, track and field and floor hockey [through Partners Club]. In my junior and senior year, I found skis and I have been skiing ever since. Now I have been skiing with Special Olympics for 6 years and it’s all thanks to Partners Club.
When did you find out that you had made the World Games Team? Who told you the news? Last March . I had just got home from work and during dinner I asked my mom what was going on. My mom said ‘after dinner you can check Facebook.
Jen’s coach had called earlier in the day to share the exciting news. Jen’s mom wrote a post on Jen’s Facebook wall announcing that she had made the team so that Jen would see it after dinner.
What are you most excited about at the World Games competition? Seeing all my teammates and meeting with people from all over the world.
What do you do to stay fit and healthy all year long and stay in shape for skiing season?I made the team by working hard and never giving up and by staying strong. I stay in shape by eating healthy and training at the Special Olympics [Alaska] building with the trainer, Karen. She is truly amazing. And I am also practicing ski gates and other stuff with my coaches, Jason and Fred, on the hill. To keep in shape, our ski team also did a dry land training and circuit for 6 or 8 weeks starting in October. I remember being so sore and not being able to walk for 3 days but it all pays off in the end. Now I am so fast….
What exercises did you do as part of the dry land training and your fitness training sessions? Suicides – running back and forth from cone to cone; burpees, sit-ups, wall push-ups, weight training and cardio on the machines.
The dry land training was organized by Special Olympics Alaska’s Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding teams for the first time in 2016. The program is a unified event, including both Special Olympics athletes and local University of Alaska Anchorage alpine and Nordic ski teams. The circuits are designed to work the core muscles needed for the alpine sports. For next year, videos are planned. These videos will also help coaches with designing indoor practices for cold or bad weather days.
How do you stay motivated to exercise and workout all year long when skiing is only in the winter months? Having a goal, like Austria, has helped a lot.
What advice would you give to other people to stay healthy and fit? Set a goal and keep working toward it. And sometime it will work out. That is what worked for me. Rely on people around you – your teammates, your friends and family – they are what keeps me going.
Jen has a great attitude and determination. When asked what she hopes for at the World Games, she responded, “The gold medal, of course, but you can only hope.” Certainly, her work ethic and motto – don’t ever give up, keep going – are an important recipe for success for all of us. This is true whether we are competing on the slopes at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, on our own at the gym, or on a school team.
Thousands of athletes like Jen need your support. Learn more about the games and how you can cheer them on during the games, whether you’re on the slopes in Austria or watching the events at home. Share Jen’s story if you believe that together we can make the world a better, healthier and more joyful place – one athlete, one volunteer, one family member at a time.
Jennifer Troutman (L) and Madison Englund (R) are Special Olympics teammates at Special Olympics Alaska and will both be competing in skiing and snowboarding, respectively, in Austria for Special Olympics USA.
Jennifer Troutman, 23, lives in Anchorage, Alaska. She has competed in Special Olympics sports for 11 years. Her sports included bowling, floor hockey, track and field, and skiing. In March 2017 she will join Special Olympics USA as a member of the Alpine Skiing team in Austria. She previously worked at a pet store. She has a cat named Carly.
Peyton Purcell, MPH, is the Senior Manager for Health Promotion and MedFest at Special Olympics Inc.
Follow Jennifer and the other Special Olympics athletes online to cheer them on and stay up to date on the games.
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