50 Stories of 50 Years – Henry Meece

Four-time X-Games gold medalist and Special Olympics Oregon athlete Henry Meece returned to Aspen to compete at the X-Games Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding Event this past Friday, January 21st 

The dual slalom event featured ten teams comprised of one professional action sports athlete and one Special Olympics action sports athlete in a combined time race at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen.  

For his first four X-Games races, Henry’s Unified Sports® teammate had always been 2002 Olympic Bronze Medalist Chris Klug.  Together they teamed up to win 4 gold medals. However, in 2020 organizers switched things up.  Henry and Chris were assigned new teammates – so they competed against each other for the first time.  Henry teamed up with Unified partner Jack Mitrani, snowboard personality and X-Games broadcaster.   This new pairing proved to be competitive earning a bronze medal in a close race amongst the top three teams.  After a year off due to a COVID-19 hiatus in 2021, event organizers put in extensive health and safety measures to allow the Unified Snowboarding competition to take place again in 2022.  Meece and Mitrani teamed up again this year in hopes of another podium finish.  The field of racers was really competitive with lots of decorated athletes from around the country.   Henry and Jack finished in 4th place – just .1 second from the bronze medal position.  “I had fun in Aspen again this year.  I did not get a medal this time, but I had two clean runs and got to see lots of my friends,” Henry shared after the race. 

Meece, 32, lives in Portland and trains on Mt. Hood with support from his mom, Nancy Newell, who joined him in Colorado.  Nancy explained the impact of Unified Sports, “Events like this create the optimal inclusion experience for Special Olympics athletes like Henry.  Sharing and competing with peers who love the same sport has enriched his life as well as our own.” 

In 2018, Special Olympics Oregon was also able to send athlete Anthony Davis from Springfield.  Henry and Anthony have participated in the X-Games over the years thanks to funding from ESPN and Special Olympics International.  

In addition to his attendance at the X-Games, Henry also represented the United States at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Korea and he was the 2017 Special Olympics Oregon Lou Burge Athlete of the Year presented at the Oregon Sports Awards. Henry has participated in Special Olympics for twelve years in snowboarding.  Henry also trains and competes in Special Olympics swimming, is an accomplished freestyle recreational roller skater and works two jobs.   Henry is also currently featured in an exhibit on display at the Oregon Historical Society called  Freeze the Day!  A History of Winter Sports in Oregon. 

Congratulations to Henry on another great showing at XGames Aspen.  We are proud of all that you have accomplished on and off the slopes. 

Mark Hanken