Closing Ceremonies
Thursday, January 14, 7:30 pm

Listen in as the teams speak!

Photography by Cheri Smith
Audio by Bob Garypie
Story by Eleanor Jones

As all the athletes and their friends and families entered the ballroom, they paused.

Appreciative comments in hushed tones revealed their pleasure at the care that had been taken
to make this a truly special night, commemorating an unforgettable week.

On one screen was continuously-running video of the alpine events --- "That's not ESPN, that's YOU!" --- and on the other were slides taken throughout the week, at each of the events. Some were action shots, others, portraits of individual competitors.

Beautifully decorated tables featured salads that were nearly works of art. Chefs stood at tables laden with assortments of sushi, freshly-made pasta, tequila peach flambe, beef tenderloin, and other temptations, ready to serve.

Each person received a special commemorative coin as a memento of the Games.

After everyone had visited the food stations and seated themselves at the tables, Colleen Horan, Director of the Winter World Transplant Games, thanked the sponsors and spoke about what the Games have meant to her and to us all -- bringing together people from all over the globe, and making us one family, because we share the miracle of transplantation.

Colleen introduced Bob Garypie and this reporter (Eleanor Jones), and we displayed pages from the webcast, while playing the recording of the children singing "Take These Wings" at the Opening Ceremonies.
Colleen and Gary Green, the U.S. Councillor to the World Transplant Games Federation, then announced the winners of the Performance Challenge Cup, intended to honor the athletes who have demonstrated outstanding achievement at the Games.
A forty-two year old kidney recipient, Walter Rettenger of Team Austria achieved the fastest finish times of all age groups and both sexes.
Suzanne Knutti of Team Switzerland also posted the fasted finish times of all age categories in the women's division, winning three gold medals in the giant slalom, parallel slalom, and special slalom.

Everyone enjoyed the comparison Gary Green made when he introduced the third performance cup winner by celebrating the fantastic nordic skiing of Martin Holzner of Germany...and then saying:

"Martin is an outstanding athlete and there will be many awards for him in the Games to come. But there was someone who was only 1 minutes behind him in the 3 kilometer race, only 2 minutes behind him in the biathlon, and only 4 minutes behind him in the 1 hour cross country race, and this man is 55 years old, over 30 years older than Martin. It is with great admiration that we award the third Perfomance Cup to Jan Gunnar Skjelbek of Norway."

The Fair Play Cup went to Bob Skaggs, who rallied for every competitor, exhibiting great humor and exhuberation. Mr. Skaggs, who at 62 years of age was the second oldest competitor, dedicated his award to his donor, whose photograph he wore around his neck.
Gary Green then introduced Bill Spencer, a member of the 1964 and 1968 U.S. Olympic Biathlon team, who since 1974 has been a member of the Technical Committee of the International Biathlon Union, and has served as Technical Director of several world championships. Without Mr. Spencer's help, the Biathlon event could not have been staged.

Mr. Spencer moved us all when he said that when he tried out for the Olympic team in 1960, and didn't make it, he was impressed with the kindness and sportsmanship of those who had made the team. Instead of going their own way and or ignoring him, they encouraged him and helped him learn. It was a great demonstration of true sportsmanship... but the athletes he saw here at the Transplant Games impressed him even more!

Following custom, each team and team manager was called to the podium and invited to speak.
Many of the teams' comments may be heard below, using the free Real Audio player. Our apologies to those who spoke before the audiotaping was started.
Czech Republic
Denmark Listen!
Finland Listen!

France Listen!

Germany Listen!
Great Britain Listen!
Hungary Listen!
Mauritius Listen!
Norway Listen!
Slovenia Listen!
Switzerland Listen!
U.S.A. Listen!

After Team USA's comments, Gary Green handed over the flag of the World Transplant Games Federation to the Swiss team, which will host the next Winter World Transplant games in 2001.

Colleen Horan declared the 1999 Winter World Transplant Games officially closed, but the festive spirit in the Cliff Lodge Ballroom was too strong to die -- the friendships started here will live until we meet again, either at the summer World Transplant Games in a few months, or in the winter of 2001.

Collecting signatures on your official Games shirt not only made a nice souvenir, but it was fun, too.

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Last modified: 11 May 2000