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Pine resident hopes to change perception of adaptive sports

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By Deborah Swearingen

Marc Romero is on a mission to ensure that the world knows adaptive sports are just as competitive and fun to watch as anything else.

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Romero, a Pine resident, lost his leg in a 1979 motorcycle accident. From there, he took up one-legged skiing and competed on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. After slowing down in the competitive ski world, however, Romero realized how many incredible athletes are participating in adaptive sports. Alongside PBS, he made a 2006 documentary called “Heroes of the Slopes,” which featured adaptive skiers, and he spent several years sharing these stories and his own in mountain-area schools.

But his latest venture is Adaptive Sports Evolution, a media company where Romero streams and provides commentary for adaptive sporting events around the world. As a former competitor, Romero has a unique perspective and understanding of the various adaptive sports.

“The athletes are telling the stories they want to tell ’cause I ask the questions they want to be asked,” he said.

Instead of focusing on their disability, Romero said he much prefers to focus on the athlete, the intensity of the game and what it takes to compete at a high level.

“And you know, that’s a big thing,” he said.

On his channel, Romero primarily concentrates on winter sports such as sled hockey and adaptive skiing. But he also broadcasts a lot of wheelchair basketball, largely thanks to Ben Mortensen, a fellow Pine resident and former wheelchair basketball player.

Romero and Mortensen first connected when Romero put out a call for adaptive cyclers interested in competing in the Bike Tour Colorado, where cyclists traverse 350 miles in a week. Mortensen joined the team and later accompanied Romero for school presentations. While he doesn’t work with Adaptive Sports Evolution as much as Romero, Mortensen has traveled with him to commentate games in places such as Germany.

Right now, Adaptive Sports Evolution is fueled by the athletes who compete.

“The whole thing that’s keeping me alive and keeping me going is the athletes themselves. They’re the ones going to my channel, watching themselves play, watching the interviews I do of them and caring. Their families and friends, them, their organizations,” Romero said.

Romero and Mortensen hope to change that. It’s clear to both why those with disabilities would be interested in following adaptive sports. In doing so, they can find inspiration and understand what’s possible.

“I just think people are excited when they see all these different things that are out there,” Mortensen said.

But athletes who play adaptive sports deserve the same respect and recognition as an able-bodied athlete — not because they compete with a physical disability but because they’re athletic and strong and talented at what they do.

Romero hopes to show the general public that through adaptive sports, they can find the same excitement and competitive spirit that they’d experience in any other sport.

“You’re going to see that in adaptive sports. You’re going to see passion and emotion and winning and losing and competition,” Romero said.

Undoubtedly, Adaptive Sports Evolution is Romero’s passion. Mortensen calls it “his baby.” And if there’s any question, just take a look at his car, a typical Coloradan Subaru but wrapped with the smiling faces of the athletes he admires.

Interested? Adaptive Sports Evolution is planning to broadcast and commentate from the 2019 World Para Ice Hockey Championships, held from April 27 to May 4 in the Czech Republic. To watch live broadcasts, interviews and more, visit www.adaptivesportsevolution.org. To learn more, get in touch or discuss sponsorship possibilities, contact Romero at 303-807-4057 or marc.onetrack@gmail.com.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.