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      Athletes gear up for competition at 2013 Special Olympics Michigan Winter Games

      Kayla Cornell, a level 3 skier, competing in the Special Olympics Michigan 2013 Winter Games.

      Whether it was bunny hopping, busting a move or breezing through the slopes in hopes of beating the competition, it was a great day for the Special Olympics Michigan Winter Games at Shanty Creek Resorts Thursday.

      Kayla Cornell and Whitney Patton are two of 900 athletes who competed in winter sports in Bellaire.

      Kayla said she loves the thrill of competitive skiing.

      "Just the speed going down and the wind blowing in your face," Kayla said.

      Whitney, a highly-skilled level three snowboarder had her eye on the prize and head in the game. She didn't have time to stop and chat, but standing close by were her proud parents.

      "It has built her confidence, it's just really an awesome thing," said Bruce Patton, Whitney's dad.

      Whitney's mom, Cheryl Patton, said it has been great to see her daughter grow in the sport.

      "Last year she was a level two and she progressed to the three, she's very excited," Cheryl said.

      Kayla Cornell started competing in the Special Olympics Michigan when she was in 7th grade.

      As a highly-skilled level three skier, Kayla scored two silver medals in her events, Thursday. But she didn't let that go to her head.

      In fact the highlight of her day was a pep talk with a fellow athlete whose nerves were getting the best of her.

      "She fell yesterday, so she thought she was going to fall again, and I just said, 'Well, take five deep breaths in and out', and I said, 'Just tell yourself you're not going to fall,'" Kayla said.

      And a few friendly words went a long way because the girl placed first in her race.

      Kayla's mom, Patty Cornell, couldn't be more proud.

      "It's just, it's amazing to watch," Patty said. "They support each other, they cheer each other on."

      Patty and Kayla love that this event brings the family together and Patty has decided to further her involvement as a coach.

      After a long day of competition the athletes had a closing celebration and victory dance at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

      For more information about Special Olympics Michigan click HERE.