The 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games, held in Boise, Idaho, last February, saw nearly 2,500 athletes from nearly 100 countries competing. Surpassing the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games in athlete numbers and participating nations, the World Winter Games was the largest multi-day winter sporting event ever held in Idaho. Competition included seven winter sports-Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Figure Skating, Floor Hockey, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing and Speed Skating.
As the IPC's mascot Spuddy Buddy greeted athletes from nearly 100 countries in his official cobalt blue World Games jersey, the universal response was clear, "Idaho potatoes are the best in the world!"
The athletes and their families visiting the Special Olympics Town at Boise Center immediately recognized Spuddy and embraced the opportunity to meet Idaho's famous potato.
As a sponsor of the Games, the IPC showed its support during the weeklong event by providing nutritious Idaho potato dishes and memorabilia specially branded for the Games.
"The Idaho Potato Commission was proud to support the Special Olympics World Winter Games," said Frank Muir, president/CEO, IPC, "and provide potatoes to fuel the athletes throughout the sporting events."
For the games, the IPC's mascot Spuddy Buddy hung up his red jersey for a new, limited edition, cobalt blue Special Olympics jersey. More than 6,000 special edition, plush mini Spuddy Buddies were included in the athletes' welcome bags, and Spuddy, himself, made daily appearances at the Special Olympics Town. The IPC also donated more than 5,800 Idaho potato pins, custom made for the World Winter Games, for athletes to trade throughout the week and treasure through their Olympic career.
With competition forefront on the athletes' minds, the IPC ensured they would be energized throughout the week with nutritious Idaho potato dishes. The IPC provided more than 8,400 Idaho potatoes for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Reception, the Healthy Athletes Reception and the Family Dinner Reception.
To close out the Games, Muir was invited to present medals to floor hockey teams during the final awards presentation Friday, February 13.
"It was an honor to be part of this awards ceremony," said Muir, "a moment for which these athletes train so hard. It is humbling to be part of this international event that supports the special talents of these athletes."