Meet our 2013 World Winter Games official! Bob Williams served as a snowboarding official in PyeongChang, South Korea, this was the first time a New Zealander had been selected to be a snow sports official at a Winter Games event.
Bob was responsible for score recording, timekeeping and course observation for the various snowboarding competitions held during the eight-day event.
"It's a tremendous honour and I am extremely excited", says Bob, who started snowboarding at the age of 50 and is now a qualified snowboarding and adaptive instructor.
“What I enjoy most is working with people who are really good at what they do, so this is a fantastic opportunity for me.”
It’s fitting that Bob’s journey as an instructor led him to this opportunity, as it was a chance encounter with Special Olympics 10 years ago that inspired him to get involved with the adaptive programme.
“It was absolutely bucketing down with rain this day at Whakapapa. I was trudging back to my snow school base when I saw this person standing on his head in the snow. I had to ask what he was doing, and he told me there was a
Special Olympics event underway and the athletes couldn’t see the flags, so he was acting as a marker,” says Bob. “Seeing these people so determined to carry on made me think, ‘I need to be part of this’.”
Bob volunteered to help with the Special Olympics event, and during this time learnt about the adaptive programme. The programme is offered at all major ski fields in New Zealand for people “who need a bit of a helping hand on the slopes”, primarily those with physical and intellectual disabilities. After working on the Whakapapa programme for a few years, Bob set up a sister programme at Turoa ski field in 2008.
Specially qualified instructors at the Turoa programme now handle hundreds of skiers and snowboarders each season. Special Olympics athletes make up a large proportion of this as the programme serves to help individual skiers and snowboarders, as well as with Club events and the Upper and Lower North Island snow camps held each year.