Special Olympics athletes from around the state are waxing their skis and snowboards and sharpening their skates in preparation for the Special Olympics Tennessee Winter Games to be held Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, 2016 at Ober Gatlinburg.
Over 150 athletes with intellectual disabilities will compete in skiing, snowboarding and speed skating in divisions based on age and ability.
“Thanks to individuals, organizations and businesses in and around Gatlinburg, the Winter Games will be a great event,” said Meg Takahashi, director of competitions. “Our athletes look forward to their Winter Olympics all year!”
On Sunday night, the public is invited to witness the traditional Opening Ceremonies from 6:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Here they will witness the March of Athletes, the Special Olympics Oath, a welcoming speech and the presentation of the colors. The traditional lighting of the Special Olympics Flame will take place on Monday morning at 9 a.m. at Ober Gatlinburg.
The Gatlinburg Snow Sports Center (Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding), Ober Gatlinburg Ice Skating Rink (Ice Skating) and Ober Gatlinburg are conducting The Winter Games competition.
Many businesses and civic organizations assist with this event: The American Legion Post 202 and Auxiliary Unit, Gatlinburg Convention Center, Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, The City of Gatlinburg, Borden Dairy, Glenstone Lodge, Smoky Mountain Ski Club, Gordon Food Service, Walgreens, The Gatlinburg Snow Sports Center, Ober Gatlinburg, University of Tennessee- Athletic Department, Dick’s Last Resort Restaurant, American Eagle Outfitters, Maryville/Alcoa Civitan Club, Accenture, Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association and many Sevier County residents.
Over 14,000 athletes participate in Special Olympics Tennessee, which provides year-round training and competition opportunities in 19 sports. More than 300 athletes participate in Area Winter Sports throughout the state. 2016 marks the 31st anniversary for the Special Olympics Tennessee Winter Games.
For more information call Director of Competitions Meg Takahashi at (615) 329-1375.