by Madison V. Fisler
Jan. 30, 2014. Appalachian Ski Mtn will play host to next week’s 2014 Special Olympics Southeast Winter Games – Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding Feb. 2-4.
Opening ceremonies for the event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 4:45 p.m. at the French Swiss Ski College at Appalachian Ski Mtn located between Blowing Rock and Boone.
More than 150 Special Olympic athletes and coaches from all over North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia will participate in this very special event at Appalachian Ski Mtn. Eight local Special Olympics North Carolina will participate including: Buncombe, Cleveland, Davie, Johnston, Lee, Mecklenburg, Orange, Wake and Watauga.
All Special Olympic Games events are free and open to the public.
The French Swiss Ski College at Appalachian Ski Mtn has hosted this portion of the NC Special Olympics since 1978.
“In 1977, the first games were being conducted in Springboat Springs, Colorado,” said Jim Cottrell, head of ski patrol at Appalachian Ski Mtn and a skiing instructor at the French Swiss Ski College.
“I met the state coordinator at a convention and learned that at that time, athletes had no training, so we volunteered to offer a training program for the first winter games. We got together with the NC head of Special Olympics and we created the Southeast Region Special Olympic Games here at Appalachian Ski Mountain. And we were the first to do it. Over the next three years, we had about 300 athletes per year come through for the regional games. We literally wrote the manual for how to do this, and we are now the model program for programs all over the world.”
All instruction for the games is conducted by the French Swiss Ski College, with support from the athletes’ coaches.
Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition for more than 38,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These athletes inspire greatness through their success and provide motivation to the thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide.
SONC offers Olympic-type competition in 19 sports on local and state levels.
For more information about the Special Olympics North Carolina, click here.