Twenty-five individuals from Special Olympics GB’s World Winter Games team gathered in Aberdeen to take part in a weekend of fun and celebration from Friday 20 May to Sunday 22 May.
The assembled team of 10 alpine skiers and five ice skaters (plus four management and six coaches) were due to compete in the Special Olympics World Winter Games which were supposed to be held in Kazan, Russia in January 2023.
In what would have been the pinnacle of the Special Olympics GB winter sports calendar, sadly Special Olympics International took the decision to cancel the Games when the war in Ukraine started earlier this year.
The team faced additional setbacks including the postponement of the Games due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a change of venue prior to that.
Laura Davies, Assistant Head of Delegation for the Special Olympics GB World Winter Games explains: “Given the many setbacks this fantastic team have had to go through, it felt only right to get together to have a weekend of fun to celebrate their journey from selection to this point.
“Throughout the last two years, our athletes have never stopped training and doing their best under very stressful and difficult circumstances. Training at home on their own via Zoom and being creative in venues other than ice-rinks and ski-slopes during lockdown, their resilience and determination to give it their all throughout has been truly amazing. Huge thanks to the management and coaching team who have been fantastic throughout. Huge thanks also to our families for their continued support during this time.”
With the sun shining, Saturday was the big day with a packed schedule full of fun activities and wellness sessions in the morning. In the afternoon, the ice-skaters had the opportunity to perform their World Games routines in front of the skiers. And as they changed venues, the skiers got a chance to take part in some races and show off their skills to the ice-skaters.
Scottish Olympian freestyle skier, Kirsty Muir also made a special guest appearance as she spent time with our athletes, watching them race and demonstrated her amazing freestyle skills. Kirsty is no stranger to the local Special Olympics Grampian athletes and often trains at the same time as them.
Kirsty Muir said: “I’m a big fan of Special Olympics Grampian and what they do. I often watch the local athletes training while I’m at the Snowsports Centre. To meet the rest of the World Winter Games team and watch them in action was a real pleasure. It’s such a shame the team couldn’t compete at the World Winter Games in Kazan, especially given how hard they trained during the pandemic, but these guys are brilliant and it’s fantastic the athletes were able to get together and celebrate their achievements so far.”
With activities centred around the Adventure Aberdeen Snowsports Centre ski slope and Linx Ice Arena, Sport Aberdeen has been fantastic in its support of Special Olympics GB throughout the World Winter Games training by providing free access to venues, transport and pro-bono Communications support on the ground. All of which made the Special Olympics GB training weekends possible.
Bob Thow, Alpine Skiing Head Coach for Special Olympics Grampian said: “Huge thanks to Sport Aberdeen for their incredibly generous support. Training for a Special Olympics World Winter Games is never easy, but Sport Aberdeen have stepped up on several occasions and we are very grateful to them. Watching our athletes grow in confidence and develop their skills and friendships through their participation in sport is wonderful to be involved with and Sport Aberdeen regularly play a key role in making this happen.”
Graeme Dale, Head of Sport and Active Communities at Sport Aberdeen, said: “After the setbacks faced by the Special Olympics GB team, it was our pleasure to host and welcome them to our venues Linx Ice Arena and Adventure Aberdeen Snowsports Centre.
“It was great to see the action-packed schedule come to life at the weekend and we were delighted to work in partnership with the Special Olympics GB team to make this happen.
“A huge well done to the athletes involved for their hard work and dedication to training – it definitely paid off!”