The New York Special Olympics Winter Games returned after a pandemic hiatus in Syracuse with an Opening Ceremony at Oncenter on Friday, February 25, 2022 and all-day events Saturday.
Competitions were to include everything from downhill skiing and snowboarding at Greek Peak, to figure skating and floor hockey at Oncenter, to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Jamesville Beach Park.
About 300 athletes from across the state gathered to compete — grateful to be able to do so after more than a year and a half of hiatus due to the pandemic, said Special Olympics New York spokesperson Casey Vattimo.
The last Special Olympics Winter Games were held in 2020, just as the pandemic hit New York. The following year, the Special Olympics events were held virtually, with athletes competing in their home events and times and scores tallied, but it was clear to athletes and fans – it was a difficult compromise.
“Isolation is something our athletes have always struggled with on their best days, and without Special Olympics they were more alone than ever. They really need it,” Vattimo said. “It’s great to be back in person, and especially here in Syracuse.”
The Special Olympics will also call Syracuse home for the next two years, which will hopefully see a greater resurgence in participation as people once again feel comfortable going out in large groups.
It’s so good to be on the ice again,” said Matthew Cabello of Long Island, who put on a dazzling display during his ice skating routine at Swan Lake.
Cabello started skating at the age of 3 in Detroit, where he took up speed skating, but he immediately turned to figure skating: “I love it more than anything. »
For Tiffany Rosinsky of Rome, who has been skating for three years, it’s the social aspect that really draws her to the games. “I love going out and meeting new people.”
The games end with a closing ceremony followed by a victory dance party.