Bio: Shilts, Daina - in Special Olympics (X-Games - 2015)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Shilts, Jodarski

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 1/21/2015

Shilts in Special Olympics (X-Games - 2015)

By Todd Schmidt

As one of only 10 Special Olympics athletes from Wisconsin, Neillsville’s own Daina Shilts, 24, was chosen to participate in Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding Races Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, as part of this year’s X Games in Aspen CO. The snowboarding races are scheduled from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Shilts received the news the day after her birthday.

“I couldn’t breathe when I read the letter! I jumped up and down, screaming… I am so pumped, I cannot wait,” she said. “I always take off from work to watch the X Games, and now I’m going to be in it! I am counting down the days until I snowboard in Colorado for my first time.”

Shilts will compete in the Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding Dual Giant Slalom competition on a team with an X Games athlete on Buttermilk Mountain. The event combines athletes - with and without intellectual disabilities - as teammates to showcase the power of Special Olympics’ Unified Sports ®, which helps unite communities and foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion.

Shilts has seven years of snowboarding experience and has been involved in Special Olympics for 17 years, participating in a variety of spots. Shilts competed in snowboarding at the 2014 Special Olympics Winter World Games in South Korea where she brought home one gold and two silver medals. Approximately 3,300 Special Olympics athletes from 115 countries participated in the event.

“I had been dreaming about this since I was eight years old,” Shilts said.

She also has in her sights the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

“I don’t know what I would do without Special Olympics,” she added. “I went to the Special Olympics World Games in 2013, and now I get to go to the X Games. Without Special Olympics I wouldn’t be doing any of this.”

Shilts also had the amazing opportunity to partner with her role model, Hannah Teter, an Olympic Snowboard SuperPipe gold medalist in the Unified Sports Races during the World Games. Teter is also one of the athletes competing in the X Games.

Sue Jodarski, a former teacher from Neillsville, has coached Shilts for 12 years and will accompany her to the X Games. The two learned to snowboard together. Jodarski has watched Shilts advance in her abilities on the hill.

“She’s progressed so far. She’s faster than me now! She took to (Snowboarding), and now she takes off like a little rocket,” she said. “She’s quire a competitor. What makes her so good is her dedication. She’s at the hill whenever they’re open. She’s just bouncing around, so excited to go to the X Games.”

The X games will he held Jan. 22 - 25, 2015. This is the 14th event the X Games has held in Aspen, Snowmass, CO; the Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding races were first held last year. Fans are invited to support Daina on her trip to Colorado by visiting

This winter action sports and youth lifestyle festival at Buttermilk Mountain will include an expanded and fully-medaled adaptive sport lineup. The return of Snowmobile HillCross and Speed & Style will showcase the talents of more than 200 world-class athletes from around the globe.

X Games Aspen 2015 - with live coverage on ESPN and ABC and an extensive array of content across digital platforms - is also presenting Thursday, Jan. 22. ESPN and ABC will televise a combined 16 hours of live X Games Aspen 2015 competition. Forthcoming details on the X Games athletes, full competition schedule, music and more will be available on at a later date.

ESPN is the global presenting sponsor and official media sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports® and also the global media partner for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Daina Shilts of Neillsville makes a turn during a recent snowboarding slalom course run. Shilts will compete Jan. 22 in unified snowboarding races at the X Games in Aspen, Co. (Contributed Photo)

(Follow on in 02/04 Clark Co. Press)

Bio: Shilts, Daina - X-Games Medal (Competition – Jan 2015)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Shilts, Jodarski, Teter

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 2/04/2015

Shilts Brings Back Medal from X-Games (Competition - 22 January 2015)

By Todd Schmidt

Special Olympian Daina Shilts, 24, of Neillsville came home from the recently concluded ESPN X-Games in Aspen, CO, with a silver medal in unified snowboarding. Shilts was still on a cloud last Wednesday when she and her coach, Sue Jodarski of Neillsville, shared their latest experience in the sport.

Daina Shilts of Neillsville makes her snowboarding run Jan. 22 in the dual slalom race at the Special Olympics ESPN X-Games at Aspen Buttermilk Mountain. Shilts and her professional partner, Hannah Teter, won a silver medal in the event. (Special Olympics Photo)

‘I had a lot of fun,’ Shilts said. ‘This was at least equal to my awesome experience at the World Games in Korea. It was another chance to show the world what Special Olympics (SO) is all about.’

On the first day of competition Shilts was paired with professional snowboarding athlete Hannah Teter in the dual slalom race. Teter won the women’s halfpipe event at the 2006 Olympics. Race times were combined for the overall results.

Teter pushed hard for the Unified Races to be included for the first time in X-Games competition at ESPN Aspen Buttermilk Mountain.

‘This cause is so important to me,’ Teter said in a recent interview. ‘One of my brothers has an intellectual disability, and I’ve always wanted to get more involved with SO. For the first time ever, a Unified Sports Race was held around the X-Games.’

Shilts was one of only 10 SO athletes from the U. S. chosen to participate in the X-Games.

The SO group was also part of a unique celebrity race sponsored by Perfect Sense Digital. The event held Jan. 23, at Aspen Mountain, featured Teter and all the X-Game competitors. Shilts and her teammates received participation medals.

‘That was something, racing with all the professionals,’ Shilts said.

Most of Shilts’ snowboarding training was held at the local Bruce Mound Recreation Area.

‘This was a mountain, not a hill,’ Shilts said. ‘The Aspen layout was my kind of course. It was wide open with a nice gliding surface. It was fun to race against someone else, not just against your time. I was nervous, excited and pumped, all jumbled into one.’

The crowds were huge. Shilts had a solid fan base of seven family members, including her parents. They flew out Jan. 18, routed from Minneapolis to Detroit to Aspen. The flight home a week later was direct from Aspen to Minneapolis.

The SO athletes needed a few days to get used to the altitude change. They were able to watch a number of other competitions early in the week. A practice day was held Jan. 21.

Athletes were transported up the hill on a big Snow Cat. Short runs were made with snowmobiles.

Each SO athlete received X-Games credentials, allowing them VIP access to places including the athletes lounge.

‘It was cool hanging out with them,’ Daina said. ‘They gave us a lot of advice o n our techniques.’

Another treat was a Jan. 23 concert by Snoop Doggy Dog.

Shilts credited her coaches for making the amazing experience possible. Jodarski said Shilts handled the situation very well.

‘Going to the X-Games was a pretty incredible experience for both of us,’ Jodarski said. ‘I’m very proud of Daina. She was very well spoken in the press interviews. She never missed a beat. Her enthusiasm was infectious. The ESPN people were pleased to see how much fun the athletes were having.”

Jodarski said Shilts wanted to take in everything she possibly could so she didn’t miss anything.

‘She was definitely a superstar out there,’ Jodarski added. ‘The town should be very proud of her. Daina let the world know what SO is all about. She is a good competitor and she always has a good word for all the other athletes.’

Shilts has participated in SO for the past 12 years. Jodarski began coaching her in alpine skiing, until the youngster decided she wanted to switch to snowboarding.

‘We learned a lot together,’ Jodarski said. ‘Daina has never looked back. She is a natural and talented athlete.’

Shilts said she is very thankful for all the support SO receives from the community. The Flow Snowboard Manufacturing Company supplied boots, binding and the board she Shilts to use.

One of the coaches made a T-Shirt for Shilts incorporating the ESPN X-Games logo on the back and the slogan ‘Special Olympics Winter Warrior on the front.

Shilts plans to compete at the SO Track and Field Regional in Merrill this summer. She will be part of the 4x100 relay team and will enter the pentathlon, which features 400m and 100m runs, high jump, long jump and shot put. She hopes to advance to SO State meet in Stevens Point.

A longer-range goal for Shilts is preparing for the 2017 Special Olympics World Games to be held in Austria. Next up for Shilts is the Polar Bear Plunge coming up in Neillsville the weekend of Winter Carnival. The Polar Bear Plunge is a major SO fundraiser.

‘This is my 12th year dong it,’ Shilts said. ‘I haven’t skipped a year, and I won’t miss a year the rest of my life. It is my chance to give something back to Special Olympics for everything they have done for me.

Daina Shilts (right) and her idol, professional snowboarder Hannah Teter, show off the silver medals they won Jan. 22, 2015, in unified snowboarding dual slalom event at the Special Olympics ESPN X-Games held in Aspen, CO (Sue Jodarski photo)



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