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STORY UPDATE: Ben Norris completes competition in 2013 Special Olympics World Games; brings home gold medal


   

Ben Norris Ben Norris shows the gold medal he won in the Alpine Skiing Intermediate Super G event.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 5, 2013 – Ben Norris completed his third and final event today at the 2013 Special Olympics World Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Norris placed seventh in the Alpine Intermediate Slalom event.

Norris will travel home beginning Wednesday with one gold medal earned in the Alpine Intermediate Super G event held Saturday.

Ben Norris wins gold in 2013 Special Olympics World Games

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 3, 2013 – On Saturday, Feb. 2, Ben Norris won a gold medal in the Alpine Skiing Intermediate Super G event, placing first with a winning time of 49 seconds.

In competition Sunday, Norris did not medal in the Alpine Skiing Intermediate Giant Slolom event, placing seventh in that competition. His time was one minute, 45.01 seconds.

His final even, the Slolom, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Ben Norris to travel around the world in pursuit of 2013 Special Olympics World Games gold medal

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 25, 2013 – Just as students and instructors return to campus for the start of the spring semester, 22-year-old Virginia Tech employee Ben Norris will leave the mountains of Blacksburg, Va., behind and head for the mountains of PyeongChange, South Korea, where he will compete in the 2013 Special Olympics World Games. 

The games are the second largest sporting event on the planet.

Norris, an intermediate alpine skier, is one of 2,400 athletes from 112 countries who will compete in the games which will be held from Jan. 29 through Feb. 5. He is one of only four Virginia athletes on the 151 member-strong Team USA.

“My hopes are to have fun and probably win a medal,” said Norris, who says he plans to take a lot of Nature Valley bars, just in case he doesn’t like the native food. He’s also a little concerned that the racing suit he’ll wear won’t be warm enough given the record breaking cold temperatures expected in PyeongChange. “It’s just one layer of clothes,” he said.

Norris and his identical twin brother Josh, both of whom have intellectual disabilities, work at Virginia Tech’s newest on-campus dining facility, Turner Place at Lavery Hall.

Norris will compete in the slalom, giant slalom, and super giant slalom events at the World Games. In the slalom and giant slalom races, his fate will rest on his ability to navigate short tight turns; however, in the super giant slalom race, Norris’ success will be determined less by technique and more by speed.

Each of the Virginia athletes traveling to the World Games was asked to raise $5,000 to help cover the costs associated with the trip – a goal Norris surpassed by more than $1,000. Those additional monies will go directly to local Special Olympics activities.

While in South Korea, Norris and the rest of Team USA will stay in Olympic Village at Alpensia Ski Resort. His parents and brother are also traveling to the World Games.

A family affair

Raised by parents who are both avid skiers, Ben Norris and his brother developed a passion for the downhill skiing sport at about 12-years-old.

“They’ve always loved to go fast,” said Stan Norris, the boys’ father and skiing coach.

The family often spends weekends on the ski slopes. In the last few weeks they have skied at WinterPlace Ski Resort, Wintergreen Resort, and Appalachian Ski Mountain. They have also traveled to ski resorts across the country in the past few years. Ben Norris’s favorite place to ski is in Winter Park, Colo.

In preparation for the trip, they’ve been studying conversational Korean, though Ben Norris says he hopes he won’t have to speak much of the foreign language. This will be the first time he has traveled outside of the United States.

Extremely active locally with the Special Olympics organization, the family participates in almost every other Special Olympics event in the New River Valley including the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, Highlander Polar Plunge, and Taste of Inspiration. The boys are also involved in Special Olympics Unified Sports, including local bowling, basketball, track and field, swimming, and softball teams. Unified Sports brings together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to train and compete on the same teams.

Love for Virginia Tech

Ben Norris’s journey at Virginia Tech began in 2010 when he began working in dining services part-time while he participated in an On Campus Transition Program. The program, a collaboration  between  Montgomery County Public Schools and the university, helps provide college age, but not college bound, students with a college-like experience with peers their own age. He completed the program last year and now works full-time with dining services.

Josh Norris, who is younger by “just seven” minutes, is currently participating in the On Campus Transition Program. The boy’s mom, B.J. Norris, also works at Virginia Tech. Dad Stan Norris earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary and elementary education from Virginia Tech in 1976.

The family relocated to the New River Valley six years ago from Alexandria, Va., and has quickly embraced an orange and maroon way of life.

“The inclusive nature of the public school system was what brought us to Blacksburg,” said B.J. Norris. “That inclusiveness has proved true for the entire community, including Virginia Tech. Both of our sons are now young adults, working and actively engaged in the community, and desiring to gain more independence. I have no doubt that our move here – and the support we have received from the public school system and Virginia Tech made all of this possible.”

As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech has more than 7,000 employees and is the largest employer in Montgomery County, Va. The Department of Human Resources is committed to supporting a high quality of work life for staff and faculty located at the main campus in Blacksburg, Va., as well as those at off-campus educational facilities in six regions, a study-abroad site in Switzerland, and a 1,700-acre agriculture research farm near the main campus. The department houses several programs, including Staffing and Recruitment, Equity and Access, University Organizational and Professional Development, Compensation and Performance Management, Employee Relations, and Hokie Wellness.