Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 9:54 PM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homer athletes shine in Alaska Winter Games

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer

Shanti Johnson has been to the Olympics before, but this year, she helped carry the torch to the opening ceremonies.

Johnson was one of the Alaska athletes who participated in the 2001 Special Olympics World Games in Anchorage. Last Friday, for 2011 Alaska Winter Games, she carried the flame as Special Olympics Alaska celebrated the 10th anniversary of the World Games.

This year's games included alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, figure skating and unified floor hockey with more than 400 athletes, coaches and volunteers from around Alaska.

Johnson was one of Homer's nine athletes who competed with others from Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Kodiak, the Matanuska-Susitna area and Valdez.

The Homer team began training in December for snowshoeing and cross country skiing events. Athletes Robert Reeves, Krissy Norton and Kinna Ledger skied their first cross country races at the event. All but one of the athletes took first place in an event in his or her category.

"Homer cleaned up in the medal category. We have a great team and they have great sportsmanship," said Carol Shuler, volunteer community director of Special Olympics in Homer.

In cross country skiing, Johnson, 29, took second place in the 1-kilometer and first place in the 2.5.

Reeves, 23, took third place in the 50 meter and first place in the 100.

Norton, 22, took first place in the 50-m, the 100 and the 500.

Ledger, 20, took first in the 100-m, third in the 500 and third in the 1-km.

Dennis Daily, 18, took first place in the 50-m and second place in the 100.

Amber Loop, 23, took first in the 1-km and the 2.5.

In the snowshoe races, Richard Twing, 21, took first place in the 25-m, the 50 and the 100.

Eddy Escalera, 59, took second in the 25 and third in the 50-m and the 100.

Nicholas Kvasnikoff, 27, took first in the in the 400-m, in the 1600 and in the 800.

The team had plenty to be happy about, but Shuler said the highlight for Johnson and the other girls was meeting the Games' special guest, American Idol singer Michael Sarver.