First-ever Winter State Games coming to Squaw Valley Feb. 13
When spectators watch the opening ceremony of the first-ever California Winter State Games at Squaw Valley on Saturday, Feb. 13, they will be witnessing the culmination of two years work and worries by the games’ organizing committee.
California State Games executive director Sandi Hill said from San Diego that the idea to stage a winter games came from watching other states organize similar competitions.
Support came from summer games competitors who wanted the opportunity to compete in snow sports, said Hill.
The games is a program of the U.S. Olympic Committee and is shaped like a miniature version of the Olympic Games.
The games begins with an opening ceremony featuring a torchlight parade and fireworks display.
Competition takes place on Sunday, with medals ceremonies scheduled for late afternoon.
Organizing the games has not been without its challenges.
Originally, the event was a six-sport event, including slalom, giant slalom, snowboard, freestyle, Nordic skiing and ice hockey competitions. Last week the organizers decided to cut Nordic skiing and ice hockey, reducing the program from two to one days of competition.
“We anticipated about 500 entries,” said Hill, but when we looked at it we thought it was going to be difficult to reach that number, so we decided to go for a one day event.”
So far about 100 entries have been received by the organizing committee. Hill expects that number to rise as the games draws nearer, saying that prospective competitors indicate they’re watching the weather before committing to entering.
No matter the number of entries, Hill said the organizing committee’s goal was to stage a high quality event.
“We picked Squaw Valley for that reason,” she said, “as well as for the link to the Olympics.”
The games will be an annual event, and Hill would like to see it stay at Squaw Valley.
As part of that process the organizing committee would study the impact of the event on local economies, Hill said.
The games begin on Saturday, Feb. 13.
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