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Special Olympics New York kicks off Winter Games in Syracuse

Athletes pose with their medals at the 2022 Winter Games.
Special Olympics New York
At the 2022 Winter Games, Special Olympics New York athletes pose with their medals after an event.

It's beginning to feel like winter in Syracuse just in time for the 2023 Winter Games hosted by Special Olympics New York.

Feb. 24 marks the opening ceremonies of the state's Special Olympics winter sports competition. About 500 athletes and coaches from across the state are coming to Syracuse for the commencement on Friday and events, which take place on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Usually, athletes can participate in a variety of winter sports including alpine skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, floor hockey, figure skating, and snowshoeing. However, with the change in weather and recent snowfall, organizers for the Winter Games have had to make some last-minute adjustments.

Casey Vattimo is a spokesperson for Special Olympics NY. She said, “The snow was a couple days early for us. So we've had to eliminate our cross country skiing competition."

Vattimo also noted that the organization relocated snowshoeing, one of their most popular events, to the Green Lakes State Park Beach because of the support the sand offers under the snow.

Even with the latest schedule changes, organizers are ready to welcome to the athletes and coaches to Syracuse with the help of over 300 volunteers.

Back in January, New York state Sen. John Mannion and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon called for people to come out and support the games by volunteering.

"We are a community that believes in excellence and inclusion, and we are ready to step up and make these games the best ever," McMahon said.

Athletes participating in the State Winter Games do so at no cost. The event is also free to spectators who want to support the competitors.

The opening ceremony takes place Friday, Feb. 24 at the Syracuse Oncenter at 7 p.m. The schedule and locations for Saturday's events can be found on the Special Olympics New York site.

Isabel Flores is a graduate student studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. School of Public Communications, expected to graduate in May of 2023. As a multimedia reporter, she helps to present as well as produce audio and digital content for WAER. In her free time, Isabel enjoys working out and listening to all genres of music.