The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 20, 2013

Skills and thrills: Johnstown set to host Winter Games

Kelly Urban
kurban@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — It’s almost game time.

An estimated 350 athletes eager to show off their skills, along with 150 coaches, will be coming to the region to take part in the 2013 Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games.

The statewide competition is returning to the Johnstown area for the 12th consecutive year.

Opening ceremonies are set for 6:30 p.m., Feb. 10 at Central Park in downtown Johnstown.

Athletes will gather at the Holiday Inn-Downtown and proceed to the park to participate in the festivities. The ceremony will feature an array of speakers and performances and will culminate with the lighting of the Olympic Torch.

Competition will begin Feb. 11 and continue through Feb. 12.

There will be alpine skiing at Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Blue Knob Four Seasons Resort, figure skating at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena and speed skating at Planet Ice in Richland Township.

“The athletes come out and they want to compete and take home a gold medal, but the main goal is for them to do the best they can,” said Mike Ermer, SOPA’s associate competition director for the western region.

This year athletes from 22 counties along with those from Delaware, Maryland and Virginia will participate.

“It’s almost become more of a region games now,” Ermer said.

A highlight of the games is the Victory Dance that will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Richland High School.

“The athletes love the dance because they are able to unwind and hang out with their friends and fellow athletes, so it’s really something enjoyable for everyone,” Ermer said.

Awards and closing ceremonies will be held Feb. 12 at each venue.

The backbone of the games are the volunteers, and more than 1,000 participated last year serving in various capacities including officials, athlete escorts, award presenters and administrative support services.

Ermer said this year’s open spots filled up in no time, in fact, they had to turn people away.

“For the volunteers, it’s a unique experience to get out and see the athletes who are having so much fun and competing hard,” he said. “Many keep coming back each year because it’s infectious to be around these athletes and they want to be a part of that.”

The winter games are now in their 37th year, and Ermer said they are part of the overall mission of offering year-round Olympic type sports.

“It keeps athletes in the mind frame to stay conditioned mentally and physically to compete,” he said.

 

Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games



The 2013 Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games will begin with opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in Central Park in downtown Johnstown.

Events will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 11 and 12 at the following locations: Alpine skiing at Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort; cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Blue Knob Four Season Resort; figure skating at the Cambria County War Memorial; and speed skating at Planet Ice in Richland Township.

Awards and closing ceremonies will be held Feb. 12 at each venue.

For more information on all events, visit www.specialolympicspa.org.



The schedule



Here is a list of events related to the Pennsylvania Special Olympics Winter Games through Feb. 12 at venues across the region:



Feb. 9

• Laurel Highlands Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics; Quemahoning Reservoir near Boswell; registration at 10 a.m.; plunge at 1 p.m.

Feb. 10

• Opening ceremonies, 6:30 p.m., Central Park, downtown Johnstown.

Feb. 11

• Figure skating and dance compulsories, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

• Speed skating preliminaries, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Planet Ice.

• Cross-country skiing time trials, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Blue Knob Ski Resort (Golf Course).

• Snowshoe time trials (25M, 50M, 100M, 200M), 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Blue Knob Ski Resort (Golf Course).

• Alpine giant slalom time trials, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort.

• Cross-country skiing finals (2.5K), 1:30 p.m., Blue Knob Ski Resort (Golf Course).

• Snowshoe finals (200M, 4x1K relay), 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Blue Knob Ski Resort (Golf Course).

• Alpine entry-level preliminaries, 1:30 to 3 p.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort.

• Alpine giant slalom finals, 1:30 to 3 p.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort.

• Victory Dance, 7 to 9 p.m., Richland High School.

Feb. 12

• Figure skating finals, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

• Alpine Super G finals, 9:30 to 11 a.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort.

• Cross-country skiing finals (50M, 100M), 9:15 to 10:15 a.m., Blue Knob Ski Resort (Golf Course).

• Snowshoe finals (1600M, 25M, 50M, 400M), 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Blue Knob Ski Resort (Golf Course).

• Cross-country skiing finals (10K, 5K, 500M, 1K, 4x1K relay), 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Blue Knob Ski Resort (Golf Course).

• Speed skating finals, awards and closing ceremonies, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Planet Ice.

• Alpine entry-level finals, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort.

• Slalom finals, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort (Lodge).

• Alpine entry-level award, 12:30 to 1 p.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort (Clocktower Restaurant).

• Alpine advanced awards, 1 to 1:30 p.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort (Clocktower Restaurant).

• Alpine novice awards, 1:30 to 2 p.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort (Clocktower Restaurant).

• Cross-country skiing/snowshoe awards and closing ceremonies, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Blue Knob Ski Resort (Conference Center).

• Alpine intermediate awards and closing ceremonies, 2 to 3 p.m., Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort (Clocktower Restaurant).

• Figure skating awards and closing ceremonies, 1:30 to 3 p.m., Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

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