Going for Gold at Ober

Tennessee Special Olympics Winter Games 2016

Every year, an excited group of special athletes gear up for the exciting annual competition, the Tenneessee Special Olympics Winter Games! This January marks the 31st year for the games at Ober Gatlinburg. Bring your group to cheer on the contestants and witness all the action during your 2016 winter vacation to the Smokies.
For those who would like to know a little more about the Special Olympics, see our FAQs below. We’ve tried to answer all your top questions about this event, and we’re looking forward to seeing you on the sidelines at the end of January!

What are the Special Olympics Tennessee?
Special Olympics Tennessee is a non-profit organization supported by private donations from individuals, corporations, and organizations throughout the state. The goal of the organization is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Throughout the year, athletes will train with one of 3,500-plus volunteer coaches involved in the program to develop their physical fitness and experience the thrill of competition and personal growth.

Currently, Special Olympics Tennessee is divided into 33 volunteer areas and has 14,500 registered athletes. These athletes can begin training in their area as young as 6 years old, but they must be at least 8 years old to compete in the 6 statewide events held annually. These events include Summer Games, Golf, Flag Football, Fall Classic, Basketball, and Winter Games.

What are the Winter Games?
The Tennessee Special Olympics Winter Games feature more than 150 athletes with intellectual disabilities who will compete in the following sports with divisions based on age and ability: alpine skiing, snowboarding, and speed skating. Helping to conduct the competition in 2016 will be the Gatlinburg Snow Sports Center (assisting with alpine skiing and snowboarding), Ober Gatlinburg Ice Skating Rink (assisting with ice skating), and Ober Gatlinburg.

Where are the Winter Games in 2016?

The Winter Games in 2016 will be held in the same location they have been for the past 30 years: Ober Gatlinburg in the Smoky Mountains. If you’ve never been, Ober Gatlinburg is an exciting attraction with a variety of places to shop, eat, and play throughout the year. There are activities just for kids at Kiddie Land; activities for kids and adults like the Alpine Slide and the Wildlife Encounter; and of course, winter activities like skiing and snowboarding. Although the slopes and ice skating rink will be closed to the public for the duration of the Winter Games, you can still have a great time visiting Ober Gatlinburg and watching the exciting competition throughout the long weekend.

What’s the schedule for the Winter Games?
The dates for the 31st annual Tennessee Special Olympics Winter Games are January 31–February 2, 2016. The Opening Ceremonies will be conducted on Sunday night from 6:45–7:15 p.m. at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. The public is welcome to come and witness this traditional ceremony featuring the Special Olympics Oath, a welcome speech, and the presentation of the colors. Then, the traditional lighting of the Special Olympics Flame will take place Monday morning at 9 a.m. before training for the Winter Games begins. Finally, the athletes will compete on Tuesday before the presentation of awards.

How can I get involved?
The easiest way to get involved in the Tennessee Special Olympics this year is to show up! Head to Ober Gatlinburg the weekend of the Winter Games and witness the exciting activities in store. You’ll be amazed at the athleticism of these competitors and inspired by their hard work. And they’ll be encouraged by your willingness to cheer them on!

If you’re looking to become more involved with the Tennessee Special Olympics in general, be sure to visit their website athttps://www.specialolympicstn.org. They have detailed information on how you can become a volunteer coach, official, committee member, competition assistant, and more. They also make it easy for you to donate to the organization so they can fund future athletic events, including the Winter Games 2017!

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