Whistler’s Avery Newman has gold medals on his mind as he prepares to compete this week at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Newman left Friday (Jan. 25) with the rest of the 141-athlete Canadian team for Pyeongchang, host of the 2018 Winter Olympics, following a send-off reception in Vancouver the day before.
The 23-year-old will compete in alpine skiing in Korea, where he’ll make his first appearance at the multi-sport event.
Before leaving last week, Newman said he fully expects to come home with some medals around his neck.
“You bet I am,” he said. “I know I’m going to win.”
Newman’s confidence isn’t misplaced, if his results closer to home are any indication. He won gold medals in all three disciplines — slalom, giant slalom and super-G — in his division at the 2011 provincial championships, then won two golds and a silver at last year’s Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Jasper, Alta.
More than 2,300 athletes with intellectual disabilities representing 106 countries will be competing in Pyeongchang for the World Winter Games, which run until Tuesday (Feb. 5). Newman will ski on the same hill where alpine racers will contend for Olympic medals five years from now.
Despite that, Newman said he’s not feeling too nervous about the experience.
“Not that much, a little bit,” he said. “But it’s the first trip I’ve had to do something like this, so it’s a bit new.”
Newman added he was excited for the event’s opening and closing ceremonies, as well as making new friends from other countries. He went through divisioning runs on Wednesday (Jan. 30), with races to continue each day until the World Winter Games close.