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      Athletes compete for the gold during Special Olympic Winter Games

      Speed skaters compete in the Special Olympics Winter Games 2012.

      More than 1,700 athletes, coaches, chaperones and volunteers from 60 counties will take part in the Special Olympics Michigan 2013 Winter Games this week.

      The time trials will take place Wednesday at several venues including: The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek Resort and Howe Ice Arena at the Grand Traverse Civic Center.

      The competitions will begin Thursday morning and continue through Friday.

      During the competitions the athletes showcase the skills they've learned from months of intense training. Competitions includes alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, figure skating and speed skating.

      The Opening Ceremonies for the games will take place Wednesday at 7:30pm. The event will include a check presentation by the Wertz Warriors in the Governor's Hall at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.

      The Wertz Warriors is a group of about 90 people who travel on snowmobiles for a 900-mile ride to raise money for Special Olympics Michigan. The seven-day endurance ride began in Clinton Township on Sunday, Feb. 3 and ends in Petoskey on Saturday, Feb. 9.

      This is the 32nd year of the Wertz Warriors ride. The group has raised more than 8.8 million dollars for the Special Olympics.

      There is never a charge for admission to any Special Olympics Michigan competition. 'Fans in the stands' are needed during figure and speed skating time trails and competition at Howe Ice Arena inside the Grand Traverse Civic Center on Wednesday, Feb. 6 and Thursday, Feb. 7 from 8am-4pm. All 2013 State Winter Games time trials will take place on Wednesday.

      Hundreds of volunteers help make the Special Olympic games a success. If you would like to lend a hand, details on how to help can be found by clicking here . You can check out a photo gallery of previous Special Olympic games here.