Special Olympics Michigan winter games kick off in Traverse City

specialolympicsmiMichigan’s 40th annual Special Olympics Winter Games kicks off on Wednesday in Traverse City. 

More than 900 athletes will compete, the highest turnout since 2007.

Some of the sports include downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, speed skating and unified figure skating.

Aaron Mills is the Senior Marketing and Communications Director for Special Olympics Michigan.

“The pair figure skaters, out on the ice, consists of a Special Olympics Michigan athlete and then a unified partner, which is somebody without an intellectual disability. When they are out on the ice and their doing their routine, the really cool thing of it is, you can’t tell who is the Special Olympics athlete and who is the figure skater” says Mills.

This is the second year Special Olympics will hold a unified skater competition.

“Five or six of these athletes, who end up coming away with gold medals, will qualify to compete in the Special World Games that are happening in Austria in March of 2017. So Special Olympics is going to let us know which sports we be will be choosing our athletes from, and then we will go through our gold medal winners and take our team from there” says Mills.

The games continue through Friday, and the public is welcome to attend. The event schedule can be found here.