By Amy Allen
Olympic fever is a real condition, and it was certainly prevalent in the Killington region in recent weeks, but also across the country and world. Many folks felt a pang of sadness when the Olympic Games came to a close. However, fear not: there are more exciting and nailbiting moments to come with the impending kickoff of the Paralympic Games, taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea from March 9-18.
Friends of Killington Mountain School have even more of a reason to tune in, as Class of 2015 graduate Spencer Wood will compete in two events – Slalom and Giant Slalom – at the games.
Wood, a native of Pittsfield, is currently a sophomore at the University of Colorado-Boulder where he is studying strategic communications, with a focus on advertising and marketing. His parents, Barb and Randy Wood, still reside in Pittsfield and have both worked as ski instructors at Killington.
Wood suffered a left-brain stroke in utero, leaving him with right side hemiparesis, which translates to permanent weakness and deficits on the right side of his body. He participated in a variety of athletics as a child and teen, having to work harder and push more than those around him as he couldn’t always get his body to respond and perform in the ways he wanted due to his disability. After a lifetime of being integrated with his peers in athletics and pursuing Alpine racing for years via both the KSC/KMS development programs and ultimately as a full-term KMS academy student-athlete, Wood made the move to train and race with the disabled circuit, training out of the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colo., and this is where the magic began.
Spencer Wood recounted his journey to this point: “As kids in the alpine racing program, we all worked towards a goal. For most, that was competing in a World Cup race or in the Olympics. Of course, not everyone is able to achieve those dreams and some may abandon them and shift their focus to other things. I have been fortunate enough to have been given the tools for success to help me realize my dream from a very young age. It took me over 15 years of training until I finally was able realize how to focus in a race course.”
He continued: “Whether I knew it at the time or not, Killington Mountain School gave me the tools, contacts, and skills I needed to achieve my goals throughout my ski career and skills that I still employ when racing today. Growing up in Killington, Vermont, has given me a unique perspective of family. It isn’t just your mother, father or sister who make up my family; it’s everyone who taught me to ski, shred powder and rip in the race course. I consider each and every one of those people my family.”
KMS Alpine Program Director Tom Sell shared his excitement about Spencer’s being named to the Paralympic team: “It has been incredible to watch Spencer mature as an athlete; he has very high motivation, and I am really looking forward to seeing him on the big stage. I remember his first training with the Austrian team during our KMS Stubai camp. He was so excited and impressed with those athletes. He told me then that he was going to make skiing at the highest level his goal.”
Spencer Wood headed to South Korea this past weekend, March 3-4, with the opening ceremonies for the games taking place on March 10. He will be racing in the Giant Slalom event on March 14 and a Slalom on March 16. According to paralympic.org, he is ranked 15 in Slalom and 19 in the Giant Slalom.
Races will be shown on NBCSN at 12 a.m. on March 14, and during prime time airing on March 16, beginning at 7 p.m. The NBC Sports app will live-stream the entire Games.
“The entire KMS community couldn’t be more proud of and thrilled for Spencer Wood. The school wishes him the best of luck and will most certainly be cheering him on and carrying a torch for him back here in Killington!” KMS said in a statement.
Amy Allen is the director of communications at Killington Mountain School.
Photo Courtesy KMS
Spencer Wood will compete in Slalom and Giant Slalom at the Paralympic Games, March 9-18.