Madison, Wisconsin, 14 March 2016 – The countdown is on! In exactly one year from today, the Special Olympics World Winter Games, being held in Austria, will get underway and 3 athletes from Special Olympics Wisconsin will be there representing Team USA. More than 3,000 athletes from 110 nations will travel to Graz, Schladming and Ramsau and compete across nine sports. Special Olympics Wisconsin will be represented in 3 sports: Alpine Skiing – Kyle Robinson of Chewaumegon Bay, Cross Country Skiing – Heidi Van Abel of Manitowoc, and Snowboarding – Daina Shilts of Neillsville.
Over 15,000 people will participate in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2017. In addition to the 3,000 athletes expected from 110 countries, there will be 5,000 family members, 1,100 coaches, 1,000 media representatives, 3,000 volunteers and 1,200 honoured guests expected.
“We are excited to bring the Special Olympics World Winter Games to Austria and are working closely with Special Olympics International to deliver an event that will not only open hearts and minds across Styria and Austria, but will leave an everlasting impact felt around the world, said Hermann Kröll, President of Special Olympics Austria and the 2017 games.
The Special Olympics World Winter Games is one of the biggest sporting events ever to take place in Austria. During the course of the next year, the Games Organizing Committee will work alongside sponsors, partners, volunteers and the media to further promote the World Games.
“In exactly twelve months the beautiful country of Austria will host a World Winter Games that will showcase and celebrate the skills and gifts of over 3,000 athletes who have trained hard to represent their countries on an international stage,” said Mary Davis, Acting CEO, Special Olympics International. “This is the second time Austria will be home to a World Games. In 1993 Austria hosted a hugely successful Special Olympics World Winter Games and demonstrated then how a world event can be a catalyst for not only the development of Special Olympics, but for advancing public policy, attitudinal change and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. In March 2017, Austria will once again, open hearts and minds , creating opportunities for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities leading to equality, acceptance and change in society whilst, at the same time making an invaluable contribution to the quality of life of the athletes and their families, both in Austria and globally.”
Nine Sports in Three Regions
Graz, Schladming and Ramsau and their world class venues 2017. The Convention Center and the Town Hall in Graz are real “Olympic Centres” and the redeveloped ice rink in Liebenau will be a perfect site.
Sports and venues at a glance:
Graz: Floor hockey, Floorball and Stock sports (Convention Center)
Graz: Figure skating and Speed skating (Ice Hall Liebenau)
Schladming: Alpine Ski and Snowboard (Slope 32)
Ramsau: Snowshoeing and Nordic skiing (World Cup Stadium)
Torch Relay and Host-Town-Program
The Games will officially begin with the Opening Ceremony kicking off in Schladming (World Cup Stadium Planai) on 18 March 2017. Prior to Opening Ceremony, on 2 March, the Special Olympics Flame of Hope for the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017 will be lit during a formal torch lighting ceremony in Athens and then travel to Austria. The Law Enforcement Torch Run will begin on 9th March in Bregenz (Vorarlberg), then the Flame of Hope will be carried throughout multiple cities in Austria.
The Final Leg Team (100 members strong) carrying the Flame of Hope throughout Austria will be comprised of law enforcement runners, Special Olympics athletes, and Logistics Team members from 49 states and 24 countries around the world representing 79 Torch Run programs. The route for the Torch Run is currently being determined. Adi Reiter, Head of the Law Enforcement Torch Run said, “We will visit 49 cities in ten days and bring the Special Olympics World Winter Games to not only Graz, Schladming and Ramsau, but multiple communities across Austria.
The final route will be confirmed in the next few months, but the Flame of Hope will visit the following locations:
March 9, 2017: Vorarlberg
March 10, 2017: Tirol
March 11, 2017: Salzburg
March 12, 2017: Upper Austria
March 13, 2017: Lower Austria
March 14, 2017: Vienna
March 15, 2017: Burgenland
March 16, 2017: Carinthia
March 17-18, 2017: Styria
Before the Special Olympics World Games begin on 18 March, 2017, Special Olympics athletes will be welcomed to Austria with a three day “Host Town” program from March 14-16 2017. The Host Town program will welcome the athletes to Austria before the start of the World Games, giving them the welcome of a lifetime with three days of cultural events, training and rest.
International delegations are spread throughout Austria – from Vorarlberg to Burgenland. As of 1 March 2016, more than 20 delegations already were housed in different regions. The Rotary Clubs of Austria is playing an essential role in the Host Town Program, helping to cover the costs incurred by the visits of athletes and managers in the regions.
Please click here to learn more about becoming part of the Host Town program: http://www.austria2017.org/en/sei-dabei/host-town-programm
Media registration and hotel for journalists
Media registration will open on 26 September 2016 on www.austria2017.org. Beginning in April 2016 on the homepage, recommended hotels and other accommodation will be available to members of the media for review.