North Carolina athletes excel at 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games

The 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games concluded March 25 in Austria, ending two weeks of competition among nearly 3,000 athletes from around the world, according to Keith L. Fishburne, president/CEO of Special Olympics North Carolina.

Athletes Kristen Milstead of Mooresville and Maurice Watts of High Point represented Special Olympics North Carolina in Alpine skiing competition.  Milstead won a silver medal in Super G competition and a silver medal in Giant Slalom competition and Watts won a silver medal in Giant Slalom competition.

Additional Special Olympics USA team members from North Carolina included: Tappie Dellinger of Indian Trail – ice skating head coach; Jake Harkey of Banner Elk – Alpine skiing coach; Michelle Shuford of Asheville – Alpine skiing coach; and Dr. Timothy Taft of Chapel Hill – Special Olympics USA medical staff.  

Deputy Daniel Blagg of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office in Waynesville was selected as North Carolina’s only law enforcement official to the Final Leg team that ran the “Flame of Hope” throughout Austria prior to the start of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

“Special Olympics North Carolina was well represented by a great group of people from North Carolina,” said Fishburne.  “We’re really proud of how well Kristen and Maurice did by bringing home a total of three silver medals, and we know they will cherish this opportunity for a lifetime!” 

Special Olympics USA was comprised of 150 athletes, 40 coaches and approximately 20 delegation members who support team operations, for a total delegation of 210. Team members competed in seven sports: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, snowshoeing and speed skating.  The delegation also included Special Olympics Unified Sports teams, where people with and without intellectual disabilities compete together as teammates. 

Every two years, the world transcends the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion to come together for the Special Olympics World Games. Alternating between summer and winter Games, this event is the flagship event of the Special Olympics movement, which promotes equality, tolerance and acceptance around the world. This prominent world stage brings attention to the Special Olympics movement and helps create positive, sometimes lifesaving policy change for people with intellectual disabilities in countries around the world. Nearly 5 million Special Olympics athletes train and compete in 170 nations across the globe. 

Nearly 3,000 athletes and 1,100 coaches from 110 nations competed at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, March 18-24, 2017. Competition and special event venues were held in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau.

The 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held in March in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 

About Special Olympics North Carolina

Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition for nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These athletes inspire greatness through their success and provide motivation to the thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide.  SONC offers Olympic-type competition in 19 sports on local and state levels as well as health and wellness initiatives to improve the health status and increase access to community health resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Youth become agents of change through Unified Champion Schools, an education and sports based program created by Special Olympics to build an inclusive environment among youth with and without intellectual disabilities as well as empower them to become youth leaders and create change in their community. Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at Engage with us on;, and


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