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Special snowboarder gunning for world gold

Posted December 11, 2012

— The Triangle-area isn't well known for its mountains, but that hasn't stopped Zach Butler from developing a love for snowboarding.

The Raleigh native is in training for the 2013 Special Olympics World Games and he's getting plenty of help from a supportive community.

Butler is not a fan of early mornings, but when the alarm clock sounds, it’s time to work harder than the day before.

"It's the time, getting up early and coming here, it’s hard," Butler said. "It would mean a lot (to win gold) because I've done so much. This is a big opportunity for me."

Triangle athlete chasing world gold on the mountain Mitchell: Triangle athlete chasing world gold on the mountain

Butler is the first snowboarder from North Carolina to make it to this level at the Special Olympics. He will compete in the world games in January in South Korea.

Since the competition will be greater than ever at the world level, he's working out with a trainer for the first time in his life.

Bill Burniston, who runs Performance Academy in Raleigh, volunteers his time two days a week to get Butler ready

"How do you say no to Zach?” Burniston said. “He's such a hard worker and he's a pleasure to be around."

Burniston and Butler have been getting together in the early morning hours since July and have worked on specific muscles that will help with snowboarding.

"He did want to know if he was going to get a six-pack out of this,” Burniston admitted. “I was like, ‘we'll see.’"

Butler has been involved with Special Olympics since he was 8-years-old, but he's never enjoyed a sport quite as much as snowboarding. The continued attachment to the sport can be attributed to his coaches.

"He's really done so much for me - more than enough," Butler said.

Butler departed for Lake Placid, N.Y., Monday where he will spend a week dedicated to training. His support corner and his talent will get Butler a shot of a lifetime next month in South Korea.

"I'm pretty well hyped about it,” Butler said. “I won't know anything until it really hits me."

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  • prez23062 Dec 12, 9:22 a.m.

    from a fellow snowboarder, good luck!

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