Wausau (WAOW) - 29-year-old Daina Shilts has come a long way since she was 8. She's competed for over 20 years. Why?
"Because I'm free on my board," said Shilts.
She was reaching milestones and racing in the Special Olympics Wisconsin State Winter Games.
"I mean we're skiing at granite peak at the state competition you couldn't ask for anything better," said Shilts.
Coming off her first X Games gold medal, Shilts was ready to compete. However, Saturday's competition wasn't about getting the gold.
"I've asked all the athletes if we're getting the gold and most of them say yeah but I said, 'No you're just out here to have fun and cross that finish line,'" Shilts said.
Special Olympics Wisconsin held it's first State Winter Games in 1989 and has been supporting athletes like Shilts ever since.
"For every single athlete that's here, that's in Special Olympics, it's an escape for them," she said. "It's where they can feel normal. It's where they can have fun and not worry about being judged being teased."
This year, something was different. Members of the Granite Peak Ski team teamed up with the Special Olympics athletes in Saturday's competition.
"Just through one lift ride you can feel like you know just so much more about one person," Harper Brandenburg, member of the Granite Peak Ski team said.
"It's really heartwarming knowing that you're helping somebody else rather than just yourself," said Allison Marti, another member of the Granite Peak Ski team.
The athletes, no longer competing alone and even learning from each other.
"You can meet a new person and give them tips on how to go faster," Grace Kallio, Granite Peak Ski team member.
For Daina Shilts, even when it's time to put the board down, she said she will always stay a part of Special Olympics.