The 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, are officially over, and local cross-country skier Kinna Ledger is bringing home a bronze medal. Ledger crossed the finish line in her 50-meter event with a time of 29.65.
The 22-year-old Ledger is one of four Alaska athletes on the 151-member Team USA. Snowshoer Paul Standen of Wasilla scored a bronze medal in his 100-meter event. Alpine skier Bryan Knight of Anchorage is coming home well decorated with a silver medal, a bronze medal and a fourth-place ribbon. Misty Cunitz, another alpine skier from Anchorage, earned two fifth-place ribbons and one seventh-place ribbon.
“The Republic of Korea did an amazing job hosting the World Winter Games,” said a press release issued Tuesday by Special Olympics Alaska. The closing ceremonies included a Gangnan-style performance by Michelle Kwan and guests on ice.
Since being informed last spring that she would be competing, Ledger has trained locally with Lake Brown.
Cheering her on at the games were her mother Susie Ledger, aunt Dana Snyder of Oregon and Brown.
“She is awesome,” Ledger’s aunt Laurie Martin of Homer told the Homer News. “Her journey has been one of many obstacles and yet through a tremendous amount of hard work, she is a winner. She keeps life interesting with her great sense of humor.”
Jim Balamaci, president and CEO of Special Olympics Alaska also was in South Korea for the games.
“Each athlete rose to the occasion,” said Balamaci, noting that the athletes endured the games motto “together we can” by challenging themselves and by participating in sports. “These athletes will come home not only winners, but honored representatives of the Special Olympics movement.”
The Alaska athletes will return to Alaska on Friday, arriving at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage at 4:30 p.m. The public is invited to welcome home the athletes and their coaches.
A Homer celebration honoring Ledger will be held at the Homer Senior Center dining room, where Ledger is employed, at 1 p.m. Feb. 14.
“We have something to be so very proud of,” said Keren Kelley, HSC executive director, upon hearing of Ledger’s medal.
The party will congratulate Ledger “on all her hard work and exciting news,” Kelley said.
For more information about the team’s arrival in Anchorage, call Jessica Bjornstad, (907) 222-7625, ext. 605, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at email@example.com.