Special Olympics figure skating is an internationally popular event that was first included in the 1977 Winter Games. Competition is offered for men and women in the singles, pairs and ice dancing events. Additionally, Special Olympics offers Unified Sports™ events which pairs an athlete with intellectual disabilities [mental retardation] and a partner athlete without intellectual disabilities [mental retardation] as a team and they compete in the pairs and ice dancing events. Unified Sports' promotes inclusion and teamwork in a competitive sports event. As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped in divisions according to the athletes' ability level, age and gender.
Special Olympics is unique in that it has a complete badge program to allow for a consistent progression of learning, and a reward system to encourage the skater. The program is based upon the United States Figure Skating Association Badge Program.
Special Olympics has been recognized by, and is affiliated with, the United States Figure Skating Association, Ice Skating Institute of America and Professional Skaters Association. These organizations support Special Olympics with competition opportunities and clinics to improve the skill level of Special Olympics athletes. For example, Special Olympics athletes have skated in exhibitions in the United States Figure Skating Championships since 1986.
Figure skating is in the winter sports schedule for Special Olympics Texas with statewide competition at the Winter Games in December. The following events are sanctioned by Special Olympics Texas and are to be offered at all local, area and chapter competitions. The actual events scheduled and conducted at local, area and chapter competitions will be determined by a minimum number of entries in each event.