GREAT FALLS — It takes a lot of courage to try a new sport. But Special Olympics Montana athlete Jenny Hill has never had trouble finding the willpower to try new things.
The always smiling Hill joined the Great Falls Figure Skating Club in the fall and recently won gold at her first competition.
“I would describe myself as amazing,” Hill said. “I am a champion and somebody who loves ice skating.”
She got hooked up with the club after meeting coach head Stephanie Kazior at an SOMT Law Enforcement Torch Run Tip-A-Cop event in 2022.
“I'm a full-time police officer for the city of Great Falls and there's a lot of volunteer opportunities with Special Olympics,” Kazior said. “And this year, I asked one of my contacts with Special Olympics here in Great Falls if they knew anybody who would be interested in learning how to skate.”
Hill, who had tried skating in Oregon a few years ago, was apprehensive at first but decided to give it another shot with Kazior as her coach.
Like any new skater, there were some initial struggles.
“I had to learn how to fall. Basically, you have to lay on the ground and use your skate to pick yourself up,” Hill said. “Then you’re golden.”
Once Hill was comfortable on the ice, she entered her first competition at the Big Sky State Games in Billings, where she finished first in the adult adaptive division.
“I didn't think I'd be getting first place, but I enjoyed it,” Hill said. “I wasn't scared to do it. I had a lot of fun."
Special Olympics Montana posted the video of Hill' performance to Facebook. It has since been shared over 5,000 times and amassed more than 1 million views.
“We were all really shocked by it,” said Sue Hill, Jenny’s mom. “Jenny was talking about going viral and she's hoping she didn't get anybody sick with the virus. So she's got a great sense of humor. It’s been remarkable and way over what anybody thought it would be.”
It’s not Jenny’s talent that’s attracted attention, although that’s growing by the day. But rather, it’s the sheer joy with which she approaches life and competition.
“For me and hopefully for my other skaters, they see the joy on her face and that it's contagious,” Kazior said. “As as a coach, I couldn't be prouder. And Jenny took a leap of faith and gave me a shot. She saw what our program can offer and I don't think she's going anywhere anytime soon.”
Next up for Hill? A trip to San Diego this summer for the National State Games competition where she’ll no doubt continue to make Montana proud.
“It means a lot to me,” Hill said. “Representing Montana is the best thing that ever happened to me.”