News: Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017

As a proud sponsor of the Special Olympics Austria 2017, we are counting down the days to the Games.

Between 14 and 25 March 2017, the Austrians once again will open their hearts and minds to 3,000 athletes with intellectual disability from 110 nations as they proudly compete in 9 sports in 3 host locations, Graz, Schladming and Ramsau: Figure skating, Speed skating, Floor Hockey/Floorball, Snow shoeing, Alpine skiing, Nordic Skiing, Snowboarding and Stick shooting.

Video highlights from Pre-Games 2016 below:

Patrons and ambassadors of the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017 include great Austrian names such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marcel Hirscher and Franz Klammer, who first became involved in the Special Olympics in 1993, the last time they came to Schladming.

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A dignified Arnold Schwarzenegger signs his book for a fan with Down’s Syndrome:

Austria was the first country after the US to host a Special Olympics World Games and the organisers are delighted to be returning to a country that embraces these winter athletes and which has demonstrated “its commitment to people with intellectual disabilities for decades”.

Special Olympics Flame of Hope

Prior to Opening Ceremony on 2 March 2017, the Flame of Hope for the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017 will be lit during a formal torch lighting ceremony in Athens and then travel to Austria.

rio torch

The final route will be confirmed in the next few months but the Flame will visit Vorarlberg on 9 March and Tirol on 10 March 2017.

Lara and Luis – inspired by the Games slogan, Heartbeat for the World

Lara and Luis, two of Austria’s most celebrated animals – a deer and a badger, will become the official mascot couple of the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017 after a design competition comprising a total of 51 designs and a jury of 9 people including two Special Olympics athletes.


Lara and Luis will be travelling to as many countries as possible to bring the Heartbeat for the World message all over the world and you can follow their journey.  Here they are in a sandy Rio de Janeiro …

so rio

If you happen to see Lara or Luis then please spread the message to your friends and send a photo to E-Mail:

Kristall Spaces sponsors the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017

Kristall Spaces is proud to announce that we are now an official sponsor of the Special Olympics World Winter Games, to be held in March 2017 in Austria, joining brands such as Audi, Coca-Cola and Microsoft. We’re very excited to have the chance to contribute to a world-class event promoting the combination of winter sports, social responsibility and of course Austria.

Kristall Spaces sponsor - Special Olympics

The Special Olympics

Special Olympics International (SO) was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of the late President Kennedy, to open up sports competition at the highest level to people with intellectual disabilities. The first summer games in that year were followed by winter games in 1977, and the Special Olympics International was recognised by the International Olympic Committee in 1988 as part of the Olympics movement.

It’s continued to grow, and is now a truly worldwide movement. We at Kristall Spaces thoroughly applaud the opportunities it offers to often-marginalised people in all sports, although of course our particular passion is for winter sports.

The 2017 World Winter Games in Austria

It’s not surprising that Austria is a favourite host for the World Winter Games. Besides having world-class Alpine ski facilities and a comprehensive winter sports infrastructure, it’s one of the few countries where top skiers, skaters and snowboarders receive the kind of adulation normally reserved for footballers.

The Games, running from 14th – 25th March 2017, will be based in Graz, Schladming, Ramsau and Schladming-Rohrmoos, with 3,000 athletes from 110 countries taking part. They’ll incorporate all the iconic elements of the Olympics, including the torch and spectacular opening and closing ceremonies, at Schladming and Graz respectively. In between, the athletes will be competing in eight disciplines, including Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and snowboarding.

Before then, the Pre-Games 2016 will run from 10th – 15th January 2016 at Schladming, Ramsau and other venues. Though effectively a dress-rehearsal for the World Games, this is a significant event in its own right, with winter sports specialists from all over Austria and beyond competing. Featuring most of the events in the main games, the Pre-Games will be contested by 1,000 athletes, including delegations from countries like Qatar and Jordan that aren’t traditionally associated with winter sports.

The Wider Impact of the Games

The impact of the Special Olympics goes beyond the events, though. A schools programme, throughout Austria and beyond, has the aim of raising awareness of the potential of intellectually disabled athletes and developing inclusive sports in schools. SO also runs the Healthy Athletes programme, not only offering advanced healthcare for participants in the games, but also undertaking research and education on the special medical needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

Kirstall Spaces sponsor logo - Special Olympics

And, of course, Kristall Spaces will be joining other international sponsors of the Special Olympics World Winter Games in spreading the word about the event and the movement worldwide. We’d love to see you at Schladming on 14th March 2017 for the opening ceremony.