Rocket Ryan

Sophia Vlahakis, Editor-in-Chief, News and Sports

On the ski slopes, Ryan Krug is most at home. No trail is too difficult, no challenge is too intimidating and no amount of pressure can overcome his love of competing. 

“I love skiing, and I want to keep skiing and skiing and never stop,” exclaims Krug. “It’s part of my being.”

Krug who was born with Down syndrome is a Special Olympics athlete. He began skiing when he was four years old at Mount Snow and participated in the mountain’s Adaptive Program. In 2016, Krug entered the Development Program, which has allowed for him to improve and perfect his skills.

Krug has been competing in the Special Olympics since 2014 and has garnered numerous accolades to commend his achievements over the years. In his first Special Olympics, Krug won a bronze medal, and in 2017, he won his first gold medal and was even named Vermont Athlete of the Year. The gifted skier’s most impressive performance came in 2018, where he earned gold in all three of his events: Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom. 

To compete at this high level, Krug trains diligently. During the season, he skis nearly every weekend and is always practicing to get faster and stronger. Krug embraces this hard work as he is happiest on the mountain.

“Skiing means everything,” says Krug. “It keeps my body strong and healthy.”

Known around the slopes as “Rocket Ryan,” Krug’s talent is undeniable. What makes Krug truly special, however, is his role as a teammate. Krug’s former coaches, Kate Riley and Corey Robinson, are quick to highlight that he is continuously seeking to uplift and encourage others.

“When he sees one having a rough time, Ryan is the first to offer advice and to cheer them on,” says Coach Riley.

Krug’s selflessness and friendliness is not just limited to sports, as around school, the junior is always smiling and giving high-fives to what he calls his “ocean of friends.” Annie Tear, who runs the CAPP program at Manhasset Secondary School, knows she can always count on Krug to set a good example and look out for others.

“Ryan is charismatic, hard-working, and caring,” states Tear. “He is wonderful.”

Through skiing, Krug has found a sense of independence and belonging. He acknowledges that he and his friends are all strong, skillful athletes. The Special Olympics, notes Riley, allows for “inclusion into a world of sporting events that brings so many athletes together to learn sportsmanship, leadership, teamwork and a feeling of great accomplishment.” 

Unfortunately, the Vermont Special Olympics were canceled in 2020, 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic. Hopefully, they will resume soon, but in the meantime, Krug continues to train and compete with the Mount Snow Bluebirds Special Olympics Team. When the Special Olympics do return, “Rocket Ryan” is sure to live up to the nickname.

“Ryan has taught Coach Corey and myself more than we have ever taught him,” states Riley. “Coaching Ryan and all the Special Olympics athletes is a privilege beyond words.”