Need something to do over spring break in West Michigan?
Catch Olympic Fever with Winter Games of Michigan
As the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi take place on the other side of the world, another set of Games will be heating up right in our backyard – the first-ever Winter Games of Michigan. After four years of running the popular (and ever expanding) Summer Games, we’re adding the inaugural Winter Games to the Meijer State Games of Michigan, Feb. 14-16 in the Grand Rapids area. It follows the successful model of the Summer Games as a multi-sport, Olympic-style program that welcomes athletes of all ages and abilities while promoting participation, sportsmanship and healthy living among Michigan residents.
But before you worry about competing outdoors in these historically cold temperatures, consider the lineup of 13 sports, in which half will be played at indoor venues, such as indoor archery, basketball, indoor BMX, bowling, racquetball, wrestling – even indoor rowing! For the more hardy souls, we’ve got a rundown of outdoor winter sports from the traditional like ice hockey, skiing, snowboarding and speed skating, to the quirky like snowball softball, snowshoe running and fatbike racing (see more on MLive: Quirky sports could add to spectator fun for Meijer Winter Games of Michigan).
There are many ways to participate in the Winter Games, whether as an athlete, spectator or volunteer.
For the Athlete
We’re expecting more than 1,500 athletes of every age and ability to participate in one of 13 sports – and the good news is that there is still time to register. Each sport has its own entry fee, requirements and deadline, so be sure to consult the appropriate sport section of our website for details. And with only a few exceptions like ice hockey that has a registration deadline of Feb. 1, you can register to participate in most sports as late as Feb. 10 and 12 – and some on the day of the event, including archery, bowling, BMX, fatbike, snowshoe, and skiing / snowboarding. See registration deadlines here.
For the Spectator
Not up for the competition but want to cheer on as a fan? Come out to one of 14 sites across the Grand Rapids area for some excellent spectator activities. Download a copy of our online sports schedule to plan your weekend, plus the venue map to find locations for each event. Most events are free or have a nominal fee, such as basketball and wrestling that cost $5 per day. And no one should miss what promises to be a spectacular Opening Ceremonies event Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at Cannonsburg Ski Area, featuring a parade of athletes, torch light parade, fireworks and a "Big Air" exhibition featuring professional skiers and snowboarders. And it’s free!
For the Volunteer
Want to give back to the community while watching your favorite sport? Sign up for a volunteer shift or two. Volunteers are needed to assist with each sporting event and the Opening Ceremonies as well as with set-up and tear-down, meal delivery and athlete check-in. Volunteers will receive a free Meijer State Games of Michigan giveaway and meals during the games, in addition to the chance to watch an exciting event. Contact Winter Games Volunteer Coordinator Larissa Karimwabo to get involved. Volunteer medical personnel also are needed, so if you are a physician, PA, NP, nurse, first responder or related medical professional and wish to help, contact Dr. Ed Kornoelje.
It’s an incredibly exciting time for winter sports this month. Don’t just watch the Olympics on television –
get off the couch, visit a sporting venue near you, and show your support for the new Winter Games of Michigan. See you out there!
Sports are good for our quality of life – they keep us healthy and teach us about teamwork.
I truly enjoy the social connections made possible by organized sports.