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Special Olympics Alabama Sending an Athlete to 2017 Winter World Games in Austria

News Release

Special Olympics Alabama Sending an Athlete to 2017 winter World Games in Austria

We are proud to announce that Laura Beth Matus of Huntsville will be representing the United States, as part of Special Olympics USA at the Special Olympics World Winter Games.  The Games will be held March 14-25, 2017 in Graz, Ramsau, and Schladming, Austria.  Laura Beth will be competing in figure skating.

Special Olympics USA is the national team that represents the United States at the SO World Summer and Winter Games.  This year’s team will be comprised of a 210 member delegation consisting of 150 athletes, 40 coaches and approximately 20 delegation members who support team operations.  The delegation also includes Special Olympics Unified Sports team, where people with and without intellectual disabilities compete together as teammates.  Team members spent a week in Killington, Vermont in December training for competition in seven sports:  alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, snowshoeing and speed skating.

Matus serves as the only athlete representing Alabama at the 2017 Special Olympic World Games.  “I’m looking forward to skating, getting a gold medal, and traveling in an airplane across the ocean,” said Matus.  Laura Beth has been an active Special Olympics athlete for the past eight years, having earned a gold medal each year at the Southeast Region Special Olympic Ice Skating competition.  Matus has been skating since she was 5 years old, and is best known for blowing kisses to the judges after her routines.  In addition to her love of figure skating, her other hobbies include dance, theater, yoga, horseback riding, and choir.  Her favorite type of dance is jazz, and she has proudly won Homecoming Court the past two years at her high school.  Laura Beth also loves to travel and in her 17 years of life has visited 35 states, 3 Provinces of Canada, and several National Parks including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Acadia, Great Smokey Mountains, Olympic, Mount St. Helens, and Banff National Park in Canada.  Through skating competitions, she has visited several states including Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  When asked what she is most proud of, Matus described her dedication to being an athlete.  She believes competing at the World Games will be her biggest accomplishment yet.  “I worked really hard and it’s paying off”, she said.

This is expected to be the largest Special Olympics World Winter Games in history.  An estimated 2,600 athletes from 106 nations will compete in 9 sports:  floorball, floor hockey, stick shooting, figure skating, speed skating, alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

ESPN’s global television networks and digital media will bring extensive coverage to sports fans and supporters of Special Olympics movement around the world.  ESPN’s coverage, from March 18-25, marks the first-ever global coverage for a World Winter Games event.  As an official broadcaster of the Special Olympics World Winter Games, ESPN’s television coverage will be carried across its networks in the U.S. as well as streamed through WatchESPN and the ESPN app.

To follow Special Olympics USA, visit and follow on Facebook:,, Twitter:@specialolyUSA, Instagram: @specialolympicsusa

#Cheer4USA   #iskateriedell   #austria2017   #SOWWG2017


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