Loon Mountain to host U.S. Paralympic championshipsMarch 19. 2015 6:31PM
LINCOLN -- Loon Mountain Resort and New England Disabled Sports (NEDS) will host the U.S. Paralympic Alpine National Championships starting Sunday.
Top racers from across the United States will get in the start gate for four days of high-level competition and some New Hampshire favorites will compete at Loon.
The U.S. Paralympic ski team includes Franconia’s Tyler Walker who finished first in three World Cup disciplines. Gold medal winner Chris Devlin-Young from Campton has represented the U.S. as a paralympian since 1989.
Paralympian Laurie Stephens from Wenham, Mass., won two bronze medals at Sochi and finished second overall in the women’s sitting World Cup standings last season and is expected to compete at Loon.
The Paralympic events at Loon will also be an opportunity for newcomers to compete and progress up the pipeline such as 14-year-old Owen Anketell who trains with the NEDS Race Team at Loon.
“My goal is to be on the U.S. National team. I’m pretty fast,” said Anketell.
Anketell from Hudson, Mass., will compete in giant slalom.
Anketell has heredity spastic paraplegia and has been in the adaptive program at Loon since age 3 and racing since 7.
“At the National Paralympics I’ll be racing against the best mono skiers and disabled skiers in the United States,” said Anketell.
“I met a lot of people who have influenced me on my skiing journey and I have a few other disabled skiers I’m buddies with such as Olympic skier Cam Shaw-Doran who pushes me to be my best,” said Anketell.
Shaw-Doran is friends with skiing legend Bode Miller who Anketell has met.
“Bode Miller inspired me. I’ve watched him race and it shows me what people are capable of. Even though he is not in a wheelchair, I knew I could eventually do that one day,” said Anketell.
“I go skiing every weekend and every vacation. It means a lot. It’s a lot of hard work and a big commitment but in the end it’s all worth it,” said Anketell.
“People come up to and compliment me on what I’ve done and see me skiing down the trail. I love it,” added Anketell.
Anketell gives inspirational talks at schools and encourages sports teams before big games.
Peggy Anketell, who has two sons in NEDS said, “We are excited. Owen’s life is skiing.”
“Being disabled and growing up there were not many opportunities in sports. We found he didn’t quality for Special Olympics because it’s more cognitive than physical,” said Owen’s mother.
The Anketell brothers water ski and bike. Owen Anketell completed a 50-mile bike ride and is training to ride from Maine to Florida where he’ll also give inspirational talks about disabilities and sports along the way.
NEDS provides year-round adaptive sport instruction to people with physical and cognitive disabilities. They run ski programs at Loon and Bretton Woods.
NORAMs are March 23-24 and the U.S. Paralympics Championships are March 25-26 at Loon.