The first-ever Virtus World Skiing Championships for athletes with Intellectual Impairment to be held on Austrian snow was declared open yesterday.
Austrian Disability Sports Organization Österreichischer Behindertensportverband who are also the Virtus member in Austria welcomed all the dignitaries and athletes to the opening ceremony. The event was attended by Ex-ski stars Benni and Marlies Raich, State councillors Ewa Pawlata (social affairs, inclusion and women) and Cornelia Hagele (health, care, education, science and research), Hans Niessl, President of Sport Austria, federal sports organization, Markus Wackerle, Mayor of Seefeld, the President of the Austrian Disabled Sports Association – Brigitte Jank and Member of the National Council, Agnes Sirkka Prammer, sports spokeswoman for the Green Party.
The marching-in of the nations started at 1800hrs at the Music pavilion and was the first action of the program list for the opening ceremony. Numerous local artists set the stage on fire to celebrate the “Festival of Friendship” far beyond sports. Mascot Snowy, played by actor Keanu Pöttinger, was seen walking among the athletes and cheering them up for the event. The children’s choir and the brass players of the Zirl Regional Music School along with an energetic Taekwondo routine display by the Taekwondo Seefeld and Seefeld singer Kathrin Raunigger who performed their show on the stage of the music pavilion were the highlights of the evening.
Addressing the crowd, Paula Grameiser-Scher, Secretary of LOC Virtus Skiing Championship, “I can’t believe it yet. Seeing all of you in front of me, it is like a dream that has just become reality. Your presence has made our work more than worthwhile and means everything to us! ”
René Schönberger, ÖBSV-KGM Chairman extended special thanks to the students of the FH Kufstein who are responsible for the organisation of the supporting programme, the students of 2AHWIT of the HTL Spengergasse from Vienna accompanied by their two professors.
Marc Truffaut, Virtus President and Governing board member, Ian Conyers also attended the event and was thrilled by the wonderful programme.
“We are so excited to be here this evening. I want to let you know you that you have one of the greatest local organizing committees that we have ever seen. They went through the pandemic and they never gave up on the Virtus World Ski Championships. So to Paula, to Renee, to the local organizing committee, to all of the sponsors, the coaches and everyone that made this happen. Thank you so much for sticking to it all the way through.” said Ian Conyers, member of the Virtus Governing Board.
Recording of the opening ceremony is available in the link below for those who missed it.