A local skier wins gold at the Special Olympics World Games. Emily Stephen of Saratoga Springs traveled to South Korea earlier this month to compete in two events. As YNN's Erin Moran tells us, it's a story of success on and off the slopes.
QUEENSBURY, N.Y. -- From her pink nails to the purple streak in her hair, you might describe Emily Stephen as your typical "girly-girl." But the Saratoga Springs native has something more than just a fresh manicure to show off. In fact, she's got two.
Hanging around her neck, gold and silver medals from the Special Olympics World Games, held earlier this month in South Korea. And while she competed as a skier, the sport didn't always come naturally to her.
“In the beginning, it was a little frustrating,” said Stephen.
But when she started skiing with the Special Olympics seven years ago, her technique improved.
Stephen said, “When I started getting the hang of it, I started saying, ‘Hey, I like this!’"
Margaret Martin of the Special Olympics Organization, who has been Stephen’s ski coach for thirteen years now, said, “Once she (Emily) saw that she could do it, a lot of her fears went away. And then she just got faster and faster.”
Stephen credits her improvement to the visual instruction by Special Olympics coaches. But the real improvement came with a little help from her mother.
“My mom gave me an incentive. If I was dedicated, she'd get me my own skis and now I have my pink and purple flowered skis,” said Stephen.
With her own equipment, Stephen’s confidence in the sport soared. And from there, she took off.
When she got the offer to compete at the World Games, she couldn't believe it. But with those pink and purple flowered skis, she shaved five seconds off her qualifying time and captured gold.
Forever a champion, she believes her triumphs, both personal and athletic, are a credit to the Special Olympics.
“It's taught me that my disability is just one part of my life, it's not everything that I am. So it's shown me what I can do and stopped me focusing on what I can't."