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Quakertown Man to Compete in Special Olympics World Winter Games
Written by Bradley Schlegel Staff Writer

Quakertown's Ernie Reich is preparing to compete in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

        Ernie Reich grew up watching the Winter Olympics, specifically the skiing events. Reich said he especially liked the speed of the downhill events. Later this month, Reich, 47, of Quakertown will compete in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

        "This is a dream come true," he said.

        Reich will compete in the Giant Slalom, Slalom and Super G events during the games, scheduled for March 14-25. Graz and Schladming, will serve as host cities, while competition will also occur in Ramsau am Dachstein and Rohrmoos-Untertal, according to the games' website.

        "Ernie is a good skier," said Tim Johnson, coach of the Montgomery County Special Olympics Alpine Team.

        Reich contends with intellectual disabilities but he handles most of his life skills independently.

        Johnson said he is working on getting his pupil to the advanced level of skiing.

        "Ernie gets better every time we get together," said Johnson.

        Reich practices every Sunday night at the Spring Mountain Ski Area in Upper Salford. He has been training locally for three years.

        According to Johnson, Reich made the jump from the beginner level to intermediate within a year. He said his pupil displays good body coordination.

        "Ernie is a good athlete," Johnson said. "He took to the sport very well. He can easily adapt to any terrain."

        Within one or two practices, Reich could go down the hill by himself, according to Johnson.

        "All of sudden, the brain allows everything to click together," the coach said. "It was very rewarding."

        Last month, Reich won two goal medals and a silver medal at the Montgomery County competition on Feb. 26.

        One month earlier, at the state winter games at the Seven Springs Resort near Pittsburgh, Reich finished third at the Slalom and third in the Super G.

        Reich thanked his friends and family, as well as Johnson and every other coach who helped him advance in his racing career.

        He specifically referenced instructors to he met during a trip to Vermont "who taught me how to go fast."

        Reich is one of approximately 30 active members of the countywide team, according to the coach. He said the members, who range from ages 11 to 55, meet every week during the season at the Spring Mountain Ski Area.

        "We'll take anyone who can ski," Johnson said.

        Though the organization is competition based, a key component of the Special Olympics is to help the participants maintain a lifetime activity, according to the coach.

        Reich will participate in a celebratory sendoff for all Pennsylvania participants near Harrisburg on March 11, according to Johnson.

        For more information visit





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