Lucy aims for avalanche of medals at Winter Games

LOCAL skier Lucy Best is making final preparations before she jets off to PyeongChang, South Korea, on January 25 as she gets ready to compete in the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Lucy, from Lisburn, is one of three athletes from Northern Ireland that has been selected to represent Team Ireland in Alpine Skiing events.

Along with teammates Rosalind Connolly from Portadown and Ryan Hill from Richhill, Lucy will showcase her skills as she competes against international athletes across three disciplines - Super G, Slalom and Giant Slalom.

In preparation for the games, Lucy has been put through her paces by coach Jill Sloan on the dry ski slopes in Craigavon, as well as on real snow in Maurau, Austria at the Special Olympics Snow Camp.

Commenting ahead of the athletes’ departure, Shaun Cassidy, regional director, Special Olympics Ulster said: “The 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games are one of the highlights of the Special Olympics sporting calendar this year and we are delighted that three of our Ulster athletes will represent Ireland in this prestigious international sporting event. Having our Ulster skiers compete on the world stage is a great start to 2013 and a tremendous boost to our other Special Olympic athletes across Ulster. We hope that everyone will get behind Team Ireland as they compete with athletes from across the world.”

Looking ahead to the Special Olympics World Winter Games, coach Jill Sloan said: “Competing in the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games is an incredible honour for our Ulster athletes and a gives them a unique opportunity for them to travel to South Korea to embrace the Olympic ideal. The selection of three Ulster Skiers to Team Ireland is testament to their hard work, dedication and talents. I am very proud of what they have accomplished to be selected as members of this group. The Special Olympics Winter World Games will undoubtedly be an amazing and historic event that will leave an indelible mark on those involved.”

An important part of the Special Olympics World Winter Games is the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Lucy, alongside Law Enforcement officials and other Special Olympics athletes, will carry the Special Olympics Flame through Lisburn on Thursday January 24. The Flame of Hope will arrive at a school in Lisburn at 9.30am, passing through Portadown and Armagh and ending at Craigavon Ski Centre. Law Enforcement Torch Runs all over the world will culminate with the arrival of the Flame of Hope in Pyeongchang, Korea for the Opening Ceremonies on Tuesday January 29. These games will be the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games and will bring together over 3,300 athletes from 112 countries. The 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games will feature world-class competition in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating and snowboarding among other sports. The Games take place every four years when thousands of Special Olympics athletes come together to showcase their ability in the world’s second largest sports event after the Olympic Games.