Winter Games Open 2023 Sports Slate

February 15, 2023 Blog, Events, Featured, Press

WAUSAU, Wis. – More than 100 athletes competed in the 2023 Special Olympics Wisconsin Winter Games this February. Athletes representing 19 local programs from across the state converged on Granite Peak and Nine Mile Forest in greater Wausau competing in Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Snowboarding, and Snowshoe Racing.

It was a beautiful weekend to welcome back the Winter Games with numerous volunteers gathering to support athletes as they hit the slopes and trails over the two-day slate of competition.


Alpine skiing and snowboarding concluded Saturday afternoon at Granite Peak and award-winners were recognized prior to the Celebration Ceremony that evening. The Cross Country Skiers and Snowshoe Racing contingency ran preliminary events Saturday before the medal rounds Sunday morning.

A Celebration Ceremony was held Saturday evening at host hotel Holiday Inn & Suites Rothschild, emceed by the unified pair of Justin Esala, downhill skiing athlete from Ashland, and Caroline Hodges, freshman at Neenah High School and member of the Special Olympics Wisconsin Youth Activation Committee.

Justin & Caroline kept the crowd engaged after dinner, and provided shout-outs to many of those in attendance, including SOWI athlete and Wisconsin Rapids native Cole Cleworth. Cole was honored with a framed picture after fundraising a whopping $15,000 for the 2023 Polar Plunge—by himself!

Hosted by the Youth Activation Committee, all athletes, families, coaches, and volunteers then hit the dancefloor in their finest Hollywood Red Carpet attire. YAC member and senior at nearby D.C. Everest High School Myles Paulson became DJ MyleZZ, spinning hot beats for the popular Saturday night social.


Between competition and the Celebration Ceremony Saturday, a handful of Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes, families, and staff took part in a Winter Games Polar Plunge.

Relive all the Winter weekend fun on our Flickr Album.

Winter Games marked the first of four large-scale culminating events for Special Olympics Wisconsin’s new sport seasons in the 2023 calendar year. Next on the docket is Spring Games, welcoming basketball and swimming athletes to the campus of University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for three days of spirited competition April 14-16.


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