In 2013, the whole Milstead family took to the slopes for a family ski trip. Well, the whole family except for Kristen Milstead, who wasn’t too sure about joining her family on the side of the mountain. Four year laters, everything has changed as Milstead prepares for the biggest ski slopes of her life at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.
Being selected for World Games is especially meaningful to Milstead who struggled to learn to walk as a child. At birth, her parents were told their daughter was hypotonic, which means her ligaments were extremely loose, making it harder for the muscles to contract properly. Extensive physical therapy and a lot of hard work got Milstead moving and she’s never looked back.
Milstead has been training hard to prepare for Austria and seizing every opportunity to practice. In December, she went to Vermont for Special Olympics USA’s training camp, where she met athletes from all over the country and learned more about skiing technique. Not long after that, Milstead competed in SONC’s 2017 Winter Games.
With the help of Special Olympics USA Skiing Coach Michelle Shuford, also from North Carolina, Milstead pushed herself even further at Winter Games to help train for Austria.
“Instead of going on the bunny slope like I normally do, Michelle talked me into going down the intermediate slope,” said Milstead. “It was scary at first, but I got used to it and did it again.”
Going home with a bronze medal, Milstead is ready to continue training and aims to bring home a gold medal from the World Games. With one last training opportunity, the 2017 Special Olympics Southeast Winter Games, Milstead believes she has a good chance.
“I want to get better and ski down the bigger slopes, so I can bring home the gold,” said Milstead. “I can’t wait to represent my country and North Carolina.”
But Milstead assures us that regardless of the outcome she will be pleased with her performance no matter what.
“I’m just really excited to be picked to compete,” Milstead agreed.
Milstead sure has come a long way from the girl who wouldn’t get on the slopes four years ago. She is ready to head to a new country, meet new people and hit the slopes. Her family will be rooting her on in Austria, and we’ll be cheering her on here in North Carolina!
Good luck in Austria, Kristen!
Special Olympics will pay all expenses associated with both athletes’ participation in the 2017 World Winter Games; however, donations are being accepted by Special Olympics North Carolina in support of Kristen’s journey: here.