By Julia Ray and Debbie Lucast, Mystie’s aunt and mom
Mystie Lucast is in Seoul on her journey to the 2013 Special Olympics World Games. Yesterday the highlight of the day was visiting a school for students with special needs. The school is special because it has a skating rink. The students there learn to speed skate. They speed skated for the skate team and then the athletes had ice time and were able to skate for the students. It was great to be able to be on the ice.
Sunday they met the U. S. Ambassador at the Consulate. That was cool. All of Team USA went. They wore their dress clothes for the visit. Monday night Mystie Face Timed with her mom, aunts and cousin. It was great to be able to see everyone.
Today (Tuesday) the skate team heads to Alpensia for the Opening Ceremonies. Two family members can attend since there is tight security since the President of the Republic of Korea will be present. The skate team will be staying in a college dorm near their skate rink in Gangneung. It has been a wonderful trip so far.
Last night after the long bus ride from Seoul we went to the Opening Ceremony. It was amazing. It took one hour and forty minutes for the 2000+ athletes from over 110 countries, including many countries going to their first winter world games.
After the parade of athletes, many welcoming remarks were given by people from Special Olympics and Korea. They had singers and dancers as well as a light show. Everything was done in Korean and English so everyone could understand. This was the first time Mystie was able to see her mom, even if it was from across the arena.
Today we get on the ice! Mystie will be skating her compulsaries.
Mystie did her compulsory routine yesterday and did a good job. I would say probably she placed second. I also learned that she only has one opportunity to earn a medal. They take the compulsory score and combine it with her artistic program for a total score. Therefore, figure skaters can only earn one medal.
We got to visit with her before she competed, we found her in the hair and makeup room. After she was finished they let us go in the skaters dressing room. I got a huge hug and she wouldn’t let go. She was a little emotional but said she was having a good time. She hasn’t seen much of Korea or been able to shop, we still haven’t found any place to shop.
We are going exploring today and won’t be able to see Mystie. We’ve tried Korean food (really spicy, even when they say it is not). We’ve learned that if you don’t leave your hotel key in the slots inside the door, you won’t have any heat when you get back, so the room is really cold, of course the floors are tile and really cold. I think we have finally adjusted to the time difference and caught up from our 24 hours without sleep.
The Egyptian skiers are seeing snow for the first time. They practiced back home on sand dunes. Can you imagine! It’s surprising to see some of the delegations. There’s are athletes here from countries where individuals with disabilities are put to death or shunned. Some countries like England don’t even have a delegation but other tiny counties have two or three athletes. Walking around the village makes you smile.
After the Games
Mystie says, “The end of the 2013 World games came so quickly. We stopped in Los Angeles on our way back to adjust to the time changes. I made so many friends at the games. I now have friends from across the United States and Canada. After I returned home, Pastor Darrell asked me to come up in front of the church and asked me how scared I was to skate in front of so many people. I told them that I was not scared because I had a church praying for me.”
The World Games are such a special memory.
Seeing Mystie compete on the ice and do her best was amazing. she was so poised in dealing with the many people who wanted their picture taken with her. Some were even asking for her autograph on her trading cards, which was very special to watch. During the awards ceremony, she stood on the sidelines and congratulated everyone. She was excited to see her friends win medals or even ribbons.
Mystie started her adventure as a young teenager and finished it with such poise and grace it was hard to believe she is only 14. She is happy to b back at school and with her family. These special memories will be with all of us for a lifetime.
The Koreans were special hosts and had a massive network of volunteers everywhere to help you out. The buses ran like clockwork to go between the villages and they had wonderful cultural events and tours for the families. We were able to watch Mystie each time she skated and attend the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Los Angeles has their work cut out for them to live up to the standards of the 2013 Special Olympics World Games!