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Oregon City skier to compete at Special Olympics World Games in Austria

Ashley Naber looks over her new Team USA swag. (KATU Photo)

Oregon City's Ashley Naber's life is about to change.

Like a lot of people in their 20s, Ashley is about to head to Europe for the first time. But unlike most people, Ashley's first trip to Europe will be to compete against athletes from all over the world at Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

The 23-year-old won a gold medal in Cross Country Skiing at Special Olympics Oregon's State games, but she didn't know she would be headed to Austria until a coach called, and her mother answered the phone.

"My mom says, 'Get down here, I've got good news for you. You're going to World Games.' And I was screaming, I was so happy," said Ashley.

Ashley will be one of five athletes and four coaches that will represent Oregon as part of Team USA. Special Olympics World Winter games kicks off on March 14. The World Games will include 2,700 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 107 different countries. The Opening Ceremonies will air on KATU on March 18.

Ashley says she is most looking forward to talking to athletes from places that are very different than Oregon.

"Just seeing Austria and just experiencing the fun of it," she says.

For Ashley, winning a medal is the ultimate goal, but just being part of Team USA is already a life-changing experience. As for what it feels like to wear those three letters on her chest, she says, "it makes me look special and feel special."

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