QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – This weekend, over 70 athletes are coming to West Mountain. There, they will ski, snowboard and snowshoe at the Special Olympics New York Super Regional Winter Classic, an event returning to the ski mountain for its first proper outing since the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a full schedule starting at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, the state sporting day is a chance for disabled athletes from five regions of the state to come and show what they can do. While some athletes may be local, others include snowshoe teams from Staten Island and the Hudson Valley; ski teams from Broome County, Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh; and athletes from further south into the Capital Region.

Whether coming from near or far, the athletes will be greeted by an area that knows Special Olympics New York well. The nearby city of Glens Falls has hosted the Special Olympic Fall Games for the last two years – and its mayor is a former NYSO employee, to boot. It’s a reception that means a lot to everyone who comes to play – especially those leaving loved ones behind on the trip.

“It’s really nice when the community wants you there,” said Program Director Danielle Armstrong. “Our athletes miss out on that fanbase response sometimes. Not all of them have family support in the area, so to have built-in support up here really means a lot.”

Saturday’s festivities are welcoming just under 80 athletes, as well as 40 coaches and around 50 volunteers – the last of which Armstrong noted as an especially strong turnout. A large number of volunteers hail from Russel Sage College. The games go back more than 15 years, with West Mountain always their home, in an agreement that has endured even as the mountain has changed owners.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization was told in 2021 that it could only hold an event with a maximum of 10 athletes or fewer. Needless to say, it’s nice to be back in full swing.

The full schedule for the weekend includes:

• 8:30 a.m.: Registration and performance stations open; stretching and game day readiness for athletes

• 9:30 a.m.: Opening ceremonies at North West Base

• 10:15 a.m.: Nordic skiing and snowshoe preliminary events at North West Base

• 10:30 a.m.: Alpine division runs, GS and Slalom events

• Noon: Estimated time for Nordic skiing and snowshoe finals

• 2:30 p.m.: Estimated end time – all events are followed by awards after finals

Saturday forecasts show a high of 42 around the Capital Region, with some early snow flurries. After a week of snowfall, things are looking good on the mountain – a fact that cannot always be taken for granted.

“We’ve been so unlucky with weather in recent years,” said Armstrong. “Last year it got down to -14 degrees the day we showed up. This year, though, I think it should be nice. The nice thing about West Mountain is that, if the snow doesn’t stay, they can make snow.”