By Russ Funk, ASF Race Team Coordinator & Head Coach
This year the ASF Race Team had three athletes attend the Hartford Ski Spectacular Race Camp November 29th-December 4th. Hosted by Disabled Sports USA in Breckenridge, Colorado, the Hartford Ski Spectacular is one of the nation’s largest winter sports festivals for people with disabilities with more than 800 registered participants annually.
Eric Snyder is a snowboarder and is anew member of the ASF race team. He is joining us this winter full time. Eric is 23 years old and is a below the knee amputee. This year’s Ski Spec race camp was his first experience racing. In his first race Eric earned a silver medal in the individual category.
Patrick DeCrescenzo had a great week at Ski Spec. Patrick is a 16 year old snowboarder who has a left side hemiplegia. Patrick is just back from Landgraaf in the Netherlands, where he raced in both a European Cup and a World Cup banked slalom. Starting from the back of the pack he was able to finish up several places. While he was able to compete in Landgraaf, he made the trip to get his international classification (Snowboard-Upper Limb). In the Ski Spec race, Patrick won a silver medal in the team competition and a bronze in the individual category.
Michael O’Hearn, who is 15 years old and has arthrogryposis, had an incredible week, picking right up where he left off last season. Michael started racing in International Paralympic Committee (IPC) races last season. This season Michael has upped his game and is skiing on FIS legal equipment for his age. He now skis on 183CM, 30M radius GS skis and 155 SL skis. Michael was very nervous with his new skis, but managed them amazingly well. He raced his first race on 183CM skis, not quite on the podium, but showed good form. Michael, always the rock star, gave a speech at the closing banquet about his disability and his aspirations to become a Paralympic athlete. Job well done!! And he also has the dance moves too (check out the video).
Michael and Patrick were selected to the DSUSA E-Team Youth Development team as U.S. emerging athletes. We are extremely proud of Eric, Patrick and Michael and look forward to a great 2016-2017 race season with all our athletes.