Nearly 250 athletes and Unified partners (those without intellectual disabilities) from throughout New Jersey will compete in the 2023 Special Olympics New Jersey Winter Games on Monday, Feb. 6 and Tuesday, Feb. 7 at Mountain Creek Resort.
This is Mountain Creek’s 44th year hosting the annual event.
While the annual Viking Snowshoe Invasion, originally scheduled Jan. 28, was postponed to Feb. 25 because of lack of snow on the mountaintop, the resort is prepared for the Special Olympics.
“We have 1,200 snow guns that cover all our terrain, so we’ve been taking advantage of nighttime temperatures to keep our slopes covered,” said Mountain Creek general manager Evan Kovach.
“We’re all systems go for Special Olympics, and welcoming those athletes to the resort is always one of the most rewarding events of the year for us.”
With little to no significant snowfall this year, seasonal businesses in Sussex County are struggling with a lack of patrons and a drop in profits. For ski resorts like Mountain Creek, that’s manifested in emptier slopes, emptier restaurants, and emptier outfitters, a potential triple whammy on their bottom lines.
Kovach said that with the recent drop in temperatures, the resort expects to go from 60 percent to 90 percent of trails open within the week.
He credited his dedicated team for spending what he called countless hours making sure the slopes stay in great condition.
“We prepare for whatever comes our way, which puts us in a favorable position to manage Mother Nature when she’s feeling fickle.”
Schedule of events
Alpine skiing and snowboarding competitions are scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. Monday at Mountain Creek Resort, 200 Route 94, Vernon.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing will be from noon to 4 p.m. Monday at the National Winter Activity Center, 44 Breakneck Road, Vernon.
The opening ceremony is set for 7:30 p.m. Monday on the slopes outside the Red Tail Lodge at Mountain Creek.
Alpine skiing and snowboarding contests also will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at Mountain Creek and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the National Winter Activity Center.
Speed skating competition will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Skylands Ice World, 2765 Route 23, Stockholm.
The Special Olympics began in 1968 as part of a worldwide program of sports training and athletic competition open to individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Recognized by the International Olympic Committee, Special Olympics New Jersey promotes global athlete leadership and is dedicated to the movement of empowerment and dignity.