ANCHORAGE - Cross-country skier Sarah Maas of Anchorage joined Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer in extinguishing the Special Olympics Flame of Hope on Sunday night, officially ending the 2001 World Winter Games Alaska.
The games ended with a rousing send-off at the Sullivan Arena with remarks from Miss USA Kandace Krueger and Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver. Then athletes swarmed the floor for a final "victory dance" with whatever energy they had left from the competition.
More than 2,400 athletes and coaches from 69 countries took part in the eight-day affair, billed as Alaska's largest sporting event. Organizers handed out 1,400 gold, medal and silver medals and thousands of ribbons to athletes in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, floor hockey, figure skating, speed skating, snowshoeing and snowboarding.
All six Juneau athletes who competed in the World Games are coming home with awards.
Shriver reminded athletes they pledged to be proud to play.
"You have fulfilled that pledge and the world of Special Olympics thanks you very much," she said. "To the people of Alaska, I say, you have created the best winter games in the history of Special Olympics."
Four Alaska athletes, figure skaters Melanie Flowers of Wasilla and Alex Cain of Fairbanks, snowshoer Shaunti Johnson of Homer, and cross country skier Katie Kremer of Nome, helped lower the Special Olympics flag, fold it and hand it to an Irish athlete representing Dublin, site of the 2003 summer games. World games are scheduled every other year, alternating between summer and winter games.
Of the Juneau athletes, John Magalotti, 19, won first place in snowboarding advanced giant slalom, second place in snowboarding advanced slalom, and fifth place in snowboarding advanced Super G; Sara Muehlberg, 23, won first in the snowshoeing 800-meter race, third in the snowshoeing 4X100-meter relay and fourth in the snowshoeing 200-meter race; Carl Behnert, 22, won first in alpine skiing intermediate downhill, second in alpine skiing intermediate giant, and fourth in alpine skiing intermediate slalom; Niall Bo Johnson, 24, won first in snowboarding developmental giant slalom and third in snowboarding novice slalom and novice Super G; Justin Roberts, 19, won third in alpine skiing advanced downhill and advanced giant and seventh place in alpine skiing advanced slalom; and Evvanne Menefee, 14, won third in snowshoeing 4X100-meter relay and snowshoeing 800-meter race.
"The week was outstanding," said Melissa Anderson, chief operating officer for the games organizing committee. "It far exceeded all expectations."
Mild weather ideal for outdoor activities, a transportation system that operated without glitches and competition without major disruptions contributed to the week's success.
Empire reporter Kathy Dye contributed to this article.
Juneau Empire ©2014. All Rights Reserved.