Local Special Olympics Athlete Selected to Participate in Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding Races at X Games Aspen

January 25 2018 – When X Games Aspen returns to celebrate its 17th year in Aspen Snowmass, Colo., from January 25-28, the winter action sports and youth lifestyle festival will descend upon Buttermilk Mountain and showcase the talents of more than 200 world-class athletes from around the globe. X Games Aspen 2018 – with live coverage on ESPN and ABC and an extensive array of content across digital platforms – is also presenting a Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding dual slalom competition on Thursday, Jan. 26. Each team will consist of one Special Olympics athlete and one X Games athlete participating in the dual giant slalom race on Buttermilk Mountain. Each of the team members will take one run on each of the two competition courses, with the professional athletes racing against one another and the Special Olympics athletes racing one another. The combined best times of each team will determine the results.

As one of only 8 Special Olympics athletes, Special Olympics New York’s own Zachary Elder was chosen to participate in Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding Races as part of this year’s X Games in Aspen, Colorado on Thursday, January 25th from 2:15 – 3:00 p.m. MST. The event will be streamed live on the ESPN3 with additional highlights incorporated into the X Games Aspen coverage on ESPN and ABC throughout the weekend.

Zachary Elder Biography
• Age: 22
• Total Years with Special Olympics: 11
• Total Years Snowboarding: 13
• While Zach is a person with autism, he defines himself first as a snowboarder. His dream is to help children and young adults with cognitive-based disabilities experience snowboarding and hopefully make it a choice for life. He was the first snowboarding member of the Adaptive Sports Foundation’s Race Team and serves as Ambassador for the Ride2Live Project. Today, Zach is a two-time X-Games (Aspen, CO) medalist for Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding, winning Bronze with Scotty James and Silver with Danny Davis. He is also a 13-time National Medalist in the USASA’s Slalom, GS, Boardercross, and Banked Slalom (Copper Mountain, CO). Recently, he helped bring together the ASF, USASA, and Special Olympics to host New York State’s first Unified Snowboarding race outside of the X-Games in Windham, NY, in January 2017, and the next Unified Snowboarding race is expected to take place February 11, 2018 at Windham (NY) Mountain Resort

X Games and Olympic Snowboard SuperPipe gold medalist and Special Olympics Global Ambassador Hannah Teter helped bring the Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding Races to X Games four years ago as an official part of the XGames lineup. The Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding races combine athletes – with and without intellectual disabilities – as teammates to showcase the power of Special Olympics’ Unified Sports®, which helps unite communities and foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion. More than a million people worldwide take part in Special Olympics Unified Sports® competitions, helping to break down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities. ESPN is the global presenting sponsor and official media sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports®.

About ESPN
ESPN, the world’s leading sports entertainment company, features more than 50 assets – seven U.S. television networks, ESPN International, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, and more. ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc. (an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company) and 20 percent by The Hearst Corporation.

About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5 million athletes and Unified partners in more than 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, and Safilo Group. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium.