Meece, Klug kick it off with fifth gold in Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding
The Aspen Times
Before Henry Meece was a five-time Winter X Games gold medalist in the Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding event, he was actually a skier.
Meece started out as a skier and switched disciplines after falling in love with snowboarding. Since making the switch, he is a seemingly unstoppable force in Unified Snowboarding.
Thursday morning, Meece and his teammate Chris Klug, an Aspenite and former Olympic bronze medalist in alpine snowboarding, earned their fifth gold medal in the event that kicked off the 2019 Winter X Games, held for the 18th year at Buttermilk Ski Area.
“I’m really stoked,” Meece said of his team’s win. “I’m surprised I won it, because it’s a tightly competed race.”
Ten teams raced in the Unified Snowboarding event and each team was composed of one professional action sports athlete and one Special Olympics athlete.
Each rider took two runs on the course, with the professional athletes racing one another and the Special Olympics athletes squaring off.
Meece won both of his races against Carson Geiger. Klug had a bit more of a challenge beating Australian Scotty James — Geiger’s teammate and the 2018 Olympic superpipe bronze medalist.
“Scotty James gave me a good whopping on the first run,” said Klug, who won bronze at the 2002 Olympics in parallel giant slalom. “I thought, ‘Man, I better get out of the start a little faster in the second run if I’m going to help Henry get another medal.’”
Klug did just that in his second run, beating James by a board length.
Scotty Lago (2010 Olympic bronze in the pipe) and Juan Guentrutrsipai took home silver, while Mike Schultz, a Paralympic athlete who is competing in adaptive snowbike cross in this year’s X Games, and Chris Perdue earned bronze.
“What’s cool about this event is it reminds me of when I got started; that culture of snowboarding, that really positive energy and just everybody out there having fun and kind of sharing in something that we’re all passionate about,” Klug said. “There is a real sense of community” with this event.
Next week, crews will begin making improvements to the Roaring Fork Whitewater Park in Basalt, including tweaks to the waves, installing a boardwalk and upgrades to the Fisherman’s Park boat ramp.
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