Friday night’s opening ceremony starts weekend of winter sports
MARQUETTE — With a parade of athletes and traditional Olympics music in the background, the Meijer State Games of Michigan began on Friday at Marquette Mountain Resort.
Athletes walked through an inflatable Northern Michigan University Wildcat head to start the ceremony, which included a speech by John Kusku, a two-time U.S. Paralympian who won a silver medal in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Kusku, who was born with a hereditary degenerative retinal disease, specializes in goalball, a team sport designed for athletes with a vision impairment.
His Rio experience including competing in front of thousands of people.
“Normally when I play goalball, it’s in front of about 30 people in a cafeteria of a high school,” Kusku said. “So, it was a pretty incredible experience.”
He had some inspirational words for the athletes.
“Just like in goalball, you don’t really get to choose where and when your competitions are, so make the love of the sport that you came here to compete in shine through when you get to compete in these next few days,” Kusku said.
The events run through Sunday at various venues in Marquette County. The public is invited.
The Meijer State Games of Michigan added Marquette as a second location this year, with Grand Rapids being the other hub, for its winter games to take advantage of the area’s snowy winter season. The eight events scheduled to take place in Marquette include luge, ice hockey, skiing and snowboarding, curling, figure skating, cross-country skiing and ski jumping.
The MSGOM is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event that welcomes athletes, regardless of age or ability level, and embodies the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living among Michigan residents. Since 2010, MSGOM has hosted more than 65,000 athletes and contributed more than $25 million in estimated economic impact to cities throughout Michigan. For a list of venues and sports in the region, visit www.StateGamesofMichigan.com.
Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is [email protected].