Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Special Olympics

Overview of the games

Express Staff Writer

Winners in the Snowboarding Division IV Intermediate Giant Slalom congratulated each other, from left in second place, Mario Horn of Austria, in first Norman Norman Bittorf, and in third, Craig Daly of Team USA. Photo by Willy Cook

As soon as the Special Olympics World Winter Games began on Sunday, the Wood River Valley began to brim with blue and white. There are balloons and signs, scarves and official Special Olympic jackets. Pins from all sorts of countries, organizations and teams adorn jackets, lanyards and hats. And, the sun is shining and a trace of snow blanketed the cross-country course in Sun Valley and Dollar Mountain where the snowboarding events are taking place.

On Monday, the first round of snowboarding competition continued at Dollar Mountain.

One of the media volunteers, Linnie Bloomquist, said she's met some of the Norwegians who had arrived late the night before.

"There was no bus for them, so the volunteer greeters arranged for cars to come and they personally chauffeured them up here Sunday," she said. "They were really grateful and said everyone was so nice."

Outside in the gathering cold an enthusiastic crowd danced to reggae tunes and cheered for the athletes. The crowd sparkled in the chill with the sound of numerous languages, flashes popping and an array of blue and white scarves.

"It's finally happening," said a beaming Pirie Grossman of Sun Valley, who with her husband Jim, was the founder of the 2009 World Winter Games. The Grossmans handed out several of the snowboarding medals, as did Chip Fischer, a Ketchum resident and the CEO of the 2009 World Winter Games.

On Tuesday, the second day of competition in Sun Valley, cross-country Skiing competitions were held with approximately 440 athletes, coaches and officials representing 40 Special Olympics programs from around the world. The races included the 500 m, 1 km, 3 km, 5 km, 7.5 km, 10 km, 4 x 1 km Relay and 50 m and 100 m classic technique. On Dollar Mountain, more snowboarding took place with the Giant Slalom competition.

Tuesday night a benefit concert with Michael Franti and Spearhead took place at the Sun Valley Pavilion. Athletes and students also had "Poems For Peace" trading cards created by Idaho children, which were handed out to attendees to the show.

Tonight the Sun Valley Festival will take place at the Sun Valley outdoor ice rink and in the village. Everyone is invited to come mingle with the visitors and enjoy the skating, music, taste treats and much more.

Dana DuGan:

Up-coming Events

Wednesday Feb. 11

Snowboarding Competition at Dollar Mountain, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sun Valley.

Cross-Country Skiing Competition at Sun Valley Nordic Center, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Special Olympics Sun Valley Festival (All Special Olympics athletes are expected) 6:30-9 p.m. Sun Valley.

· Free.

· Open Skate, with music by DJ Lenny, 6:30-7:15 p.m. at outdoor ice rink, off Dollar Road in Sun Valley.

· Ice Exhibition with local guest skaters, 7:15 p.m. at outdoor ice rink, off Dollar Road in Sun Valley.

· Torchlight Parade with Sun Valley ski instructors on Dollar Mountain (best view is from Sun Valley Lodge terrace and ice rink), 7:30 p.m.

· Festival continues in Sun Valley Village, 7:30-9 p.m. Music by DJ Lenny, Forestry Fiddlers from Colorado on Ram deck. Dance Troupe, open fire pits, hot cocoa and cider served. "World of Differences" video screens repeatedly, 7-9 p.m. at Sun Valley Opera House, pin trading and card trading in Camas and Lupine rooms of the Sun Valley Inn. 

Thursday Feb. 12

Cross-Country Skiing Competition at Sun Valley Nordic Center,  9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday Feb. 13

Athletes depart for Closing Ceremony in Nampa. Ticketed event, 7 p.m.

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