Thursday, January 14, 7:30 pm
in as the teams speak!
by Cheri Smith
Audio by Bob Garypie
Story by Eleanor Jones
As all the
athletes and their friends and families entered the ballroom, they
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
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
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:
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 ½ 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
|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
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
|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.
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.