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Olympics

Taking Her Expertise Overseas

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Taking Her Expertise Overseas

By Stephanie Graham

HUBERTUS - When you think of events like the Olympics, the athletes are probably the first people that come to your mind. But what about the people behind the scenes who run the show? As Equestrian Director at YMCA Camp Minikani, Alex Philpin molds young riders into champions, and keeps everything running smoothly. Now, Alex is in for the toughest ride of her life: Being stable manager for the U.S. Paraequestrian Team at the 2008 Paralympics in Hong Kong in September. "It's a huge scale on everything. I mean you are on show all of the time," Philpin says. Krissi VonBargen is an instructor at camp, and one of Philpin's former students. She says Alex is ready, based on her leadership everyday at camp. "There's a lot going on, I mean it's just crazy. We have so many lessons, and we've got camp. I mean it's a lot, but she handles everything really well," Krissi says. Alex already has one Paralympics under her belt. She was a stable director at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. So she knows what she's up against. "There's always some nerves. Flying with the horse for that length of time. Usually they fly pretty well, but you never know what's gonna happen," she explains. The one thing Alex doesn't really have to worry about is the riders...some of whom are paralyzed from the waist down. "The riders really don't consider themselves disabled, and I really, having worked with them before, feel they're far more able than most of us," Alex says. In fact, Alex says the Paralympic riders teach her, which makes her a better coach. "I had no idea when I went to Athens about the ability of these riders," Alex admits. She adds, "So I expect a lot more of my students!" Alex will be overseas for more than a month. There's no doubt she'll be missed. "My hopes for Alex is she learns more, and gets to see everything and do everything she wants to," Krissi says. "It's gonna be a pretty grueling schedule, but obviously if there is time, I want to get down and see some of the sites in Hong Kong," Alex says. The Paralympic Games run from September 6-17. The U.S. Paraequestrian team won an individual silver in Athens. Alex says they're going for a team gold this year!
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