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ASPEN, Colo. — Chris Klug accomplished a lot in his 25-year career as a snowboard racer. He won multiple World Cup races and competed in three Olympic Winter Games, earning a bronze medal in Salt Lake City in 2002 — a year and a half after he received a life-saving liver transplant.
But until Thursday afternoon, Klug had never won a medal at the X Games, which take place less than a mile from his home. He changed that when he teamed with Special Olympics athlete Henry Meece to win the first-ever Unified Snowboarding dual slalom race at X Games Aspen.
Standing at the base of Buttermilk Mountain, waiting to receive the gold medal, Klug was asked how he did it. He turned to Meece. « My friend Henry carried me, » Klug said.
Klug and Meece, a 25-year-old from Portland, Oregon, who works three jobs as a janitor, narrowly beat 2006 Olympic halfpipe gold medalist Hannah Teter and teammate Daina Shilts. Teter also serves as a Special Olympics global ambassador. X Games halfpipe competitor Scotty James and Special Olympics athlete Zachary Elder claimed bronze.
The event marked the first time Special Olympics athletes were awarded the same medals given to other X Games athletes. But it wasn’t about medals as much as a kindred spirit among competitors.
« I’ve been snowboarding for 30-plus years now, » Klug said at the top of the course, « and this is what it’s all about. Having fun on the mountain, standing sideways and sliding downhill in the sunshine. Snowboarding’s the common denominator. It brings us all together here. » (…) Read full article.