It was Olympic fever all over again Friday when 20 medalists from the California Special Olympic Winter Games took to the ice at a Costa Mesa rink.
With television's familiar musical theme of the Olympics ringing out through the Ice Capades Chalet, the Parade of Champions honorees were all smiles and glory, raising their arms in the familiar victory salute so common to U.S. athletes last summer.
On hand were 17 students from Garden Grove's Jordan Secondary Learning Center, one of the largest contingents in the statewide games held at Lake Tahoe earlier this month, and the winners of six gold, eight silver and seven bronze medals.
Also on hand for the Parade of Champions were three athletes from Holiday House, a Westminster board and care facility, who picked up five medals at the Winter Games.
Skating Coach Sandy Lansdell was obviously delighted and proud of the excellent showing. Like her students, she said she was "just ecstatic" over winning the medals.
Lansdell, who lives in Westminster, has been working with developmentally disabled skaters for nine years at the Harbor Boulevard rink. But the contingent of Jordan School students have been taking weekly lessons with Lansdell only since last fall, one hour every Friday mornings.
Requirements for the Special Olympic events weren't known until three weeks prior to the games, and Lansdell, together with Jordan teacher Roger Hoffman, had to work extra hard to whip the students into shape and teach them the routines.
The results couldn't have been better, they agreed. "What the kids did at Tahoe was just fantastic," Lansdell said.
As the young skaters glided around the rink, Martha Roy, mother of 21-year-old bronze speed-skating medalist Bruce Roy, said she was overjoyed by her son's victory.
"The doctors said he would never walk," she recalled. "Take a look at him now."