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Olympic Gold Medalist Headlines Big Sky State Games Ceremonies

Team USA

Two time Olympic gold medalist  Dot Richardson will light the torch at tonight’s Big Sky State Games’ opening ceremonies. Richardson was part of the 1996 and 2000 Olympic softball teams.

Karen Sanford Gall, executive director of the state games, says this year they have added 2 new sports, lacrosse and curling, and have expanded some sports, including shooting. 

“We’ve adapted to what the people of Montana and surrounding areas wanted,” says Sanford Gall.  "Some sports have come and gone while others have been tweaked and changed to make it work."  

When the games started in 1986 there were 10 sports with some 3,300 athletes. Over the past 30 years the games have grown over three-fold. Now there are nearly 10,000 athletes from across Montana, as well as Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Thirty states hold state games, but Sanford Gall says Montana is number 1 in per capita participation.

“I think that’s it’s amazing that this many athletes turn out,” says Sanford Gall.  “And really it’s all levels. It’s not just the elite athletes. We have people who are trying an event for the first time.”

Sanford Gall credits volunteers for making the  games  possible.

The opening ceremonies begin at 7:30pm at Daylis Stadium in Billings.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.