On June 13, Special Olympics USA announced Killington, Vermont as the site of its one and only team training camp, prior to when it will send a 210 member delegation to represent the United States at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, being held March 18-25, 2017 in Austria. Included in the US delegation will be 3 athletes and coaches from Vermont: Laura Buchanan from White River Junction competing in alpine skiing, Ethan Boragine from Fairlee competing in snowboarding, and Mike White from Dorset, assistant coach in cross country skiing.
The training camp will be held December 12-15, 2016. Killington Resort will serve as the team’s home base and several area venues will be used for training and special events, including Castleton University, a longtime supporter of Special Olympics in Vermont. Special Olympics USA is comprised of 150 athletes, 40 coaches and approximately 20 delegation members who support team operations, for a total delegation of 210. The delegation also includes Special Olympics Unified Sports teams, where people with and without intellectual disabilities compete together, as teammates. Team members will compete in seven sports: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, snowshoeing and speed skating.
“All athletes need support” said Laura Buchanan at the press conference on Monday. “Special Olympics is important because it gives everyone a chance to know the joy of sports and being accepted.” While the second-ever Special Olympics International Winter Games were held at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont in 1981, this is the first time the Special Olympics USA training camp has been held in the state.
In addition to creating a positive economic impact for the greater Killington region through hotel room nights, tourism and direct spending to produce the camp, event organizers hope the camp will leave a legacy of increased awareness of and support for Special Olympics Vermont.
Special Olympics Vermont President and CEO Lisa DeNatale: “It is my hope that this national training camp will inspire Vermonters to support the 1,500 Special Olympics athletes and Unified teammates who live, train and compete right here in Vermont all year round. Whether it’s through volunteerism, coaching, financial support, becoming an athlete or Unified teammate, or simply encouraging your community to become more inclusive and accepting of all its citizens…there is a way for everyone to make a genuine difference in the lives of our athletes, long after the camp is over.”
In addition to announcing its training camp location, Special Olympics USA also unveiled the names of the athletes and coaches nominated to the team. Special Olympics athletes are selected, based on established advancement criteria, undergo an application process, and must successfully complete the Vermont training camp before being officially named to the team. The full roster can be viewed at www.specialolympicsusa.org.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these athletes to demonstrate their athletic abilities, compete at the highest level on the world stage and to have life and cultural experiences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” said Chris Hahn, Head of Delegation for Special Olympics USA. “I encourage every American to cheer on these inspiring athletes, to share in their triumphs and to take pride in knowing that they will represent our country with excellence and honor.”
Every two years, the world transcends the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion to come together for the Special Olympics World Games. Alternating between summer and winter Games, this event is the flagship event of the Special Olympics movement, which promotes equality, tolerance and acceptance around the world. This prominent world stage brings attention to the Special Olympics movement and helps create positive, sometimes lifesaving policy change for people with intellectual disabilities in countries around the world. Nearly 5 million Special Olympics athletes train and compete in 170 nations across the globe.
Nearly 3,000 athletes and 1,100 coaches from 110 nations will compete at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, March 18-24, 2017. Competition and special event venues will be in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau. Lean more at http://www.austria2017.org/en/
To follow Special Olympics USA, visit www.specialolympicsusa.org, and follow on Facebook: www.facebook.com/specialolympicsusa, Twitter: @specialolyUSA, Instagram: @specialolympicsusa. Hash Tag: #Cheer4USA