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Special Olympics set to begin again in Johnstown area

| Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games returns to the Johnstown area for the 12th consecutive year, beginning with Sunday's opening ceremonies, followed by competition Monday and Tuesday.

More than 300 athletes, including 10 from Allegheny County and 29 from Westmoreland, and 135 coaches are expected to participate in the events, including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and figure skating.

The event also brings 250 volunteers to venues including Hidden Valley Ski Resort (alpine skiing), Blue Knob Ski Resort (cross-country and snowshoeing), Cambria County War Memorial Arena (figure skating) and Planet Ice (speed skating).

Athletes must qualify for the Games, but event director Lesley Meyer said many volunteers return year after year.

“The first year they may be apprehensive but usually after that they're ours,” she said. “They see how rewarding it is.”

This is the 37th year of the Winter Games in Pennsylvania, and Meyer said the Johnstown area is an ideal location because of the proximity of the venues required for the events.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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