It‘s what sport should be about.

Sometimes, it’s not about medals and podium finishes, but rather inclusiveness, the building of friendships and the pursuit of personal excellence.

The spirit of sport took centre stage as athletes from Iceland, Canada, Great Britain, Finland and the United States converged in Reykjavík, Iceland for the 2016 IceCup from November 4-6.

Promoted as “Skating beneath the Northern Lights”, the figure skating competition brought together Special Olympic athletes and Athletes With A Disability (AWAD) to compete and, more importantly, form everlasting friendships and memories in the picturesque country.icecup3

The Special Olympians used the IceCup as a dress rehearsal for the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 coming up in Austria next March, while the AWAD competitors were given the opportunity to take part in an international competition with other skaters living with disabilities.

“It was an incredible experience for everyone that attended, “says Heather McMahon, who travelled to Iceland with her daughter, Stephanie, to take part in the event.

“Allowing these athletes to take part in an international event, with other Special Olympians and adaptive skaters, shows the inclusiveness and true spirit of sport. It taught life values and relationship building both during the competition, and away from the rink.”

Organized by the Ösp Sports Club with the support of Special Olympics Iceland, IceCup, sanctioned by Skate Canada, featured competition in singles, pairs and unified pairs. A coaching workshop was also held for coaches with athletes attending the Special Olympics World Winter Games.

The competition was staged in the spirit of the Special Olympic movement, where skaters with any form of impairment enjoyed the opportunity to compete internationally in a safe, encouraging environment.

icecup2Not all the memories from IceCup were formed at the rink. The event was about friendship as much as medals, so a highlight of the event was the “Trip of Friendship”, which featured a traditional Icelandic lunch and sightseeing experience.

For more information on the event, please visit the IceCup website.