Idaho Special Olympics Winter Games See Increase in Participation

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The Idaho Special Olympics Winter Games will be held in Sun Valley on Feb. 28. - SPECIAL OLYMPICS IDAHO
  • Special Olympics Idaho
  • The Idaho Special Olympics Winter Games will be held in Sun Valley on Feb. 28.

More than 450 athletes statewide will travel to Sun Valley for the 2015 State Winter Games on Feb. 28. The competitions include alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and floor hockey—Idaho Special Olympics' largest winter sport.

According to Special Olympics of Idaho, there has been a 25 percent increase in athlete participation since last year. More floor hockey teams have been added across the state and Opey James Freedle, the director of sports and training for Special Olympics Idaho, said that competition is quickly becoming the most popular. 

"It can get pretty intense," Freedle said. "It's a fun one to watch. It's like ice hockey, but on a court with tennis shoes."

Floor hockey has different divisions, some of which are developmental for athletes to build team skills, and others that are more competitive. 

13 teams consisting of 467 athletes from across the state are attending this year's games. Two athletes will also be introduced at the winter games who will compete in the 2015 World Summer Games in Los Angeles. Olivia Cline of the Four Rivers Team in Payette will compete in aquatics, and Dillon Sanders of the Ghostbusters Team of Boise will compete in track and field.  

The Special Olympics of Idaho is also holding a fundraising event called Plungefest to support its athletes on Feb. 21, where individuals, businesses and organizations can gather pledges and then plunge into a pool of icy water. The event takes place at Eagle Island State Park at 11 a.m. and features live music, food and a PreFunk beer garden.