Lara & Luis accompany Special Olympics World Winter Games

The official mascot for the World Winter Games Austria 2017 was unveiled today at a ceremony at Graz City Hall by Mayor of Graz Mr. Siegfried Nagl.  Designers from 10 countries submitted a total of 51 Mascot designs and a jury of 9 people including two Special Olympics athletes as well as a public vote selected the winning design.

The winning Mascot - Lara and Luis - depicts two of Austria’s most celebrated animals a deer and a badger and is inspired by the Games slogan Heartbeat for the World.  The two winning designers 23 years old Hanna Riebenbauer and Alexander Menzel, 26, are students of the University of Applied Sciences in ? Their design took almost two months to complete and they’re delighted Lara and Luis have been selected as the winning Mascot.

“We wanted to take two animals that are dear to Austrian hearts and combine this with the meaning and spirit of Special Olympics and we created Lara and Luis.  We hope that the World will take Special Olympics athletes to their hearts as well as Lara and Luis and celebrate the spirit and meaning of Special Olympics.  For us we wanted to share the joy and love of Special Olympics through Lara and Luis and we’re delighted that the public and jury agreed and chose our design to represent the essence of Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017.”


Hermann Kroll, President of Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 said, "I am very grateful that so many creative artists from 10 nations submitted their designs for consideration. The winning design represents two much loved animals in Austria and captures the heart of Special Olympics perfectly.  It was a difficult decision for the jury as all six final designs were truly excellent but in the end the vote was unanimous and Lara and Luis were selected  by a clear majority.”

Graz is a UNESCO City of Design and Eberhard Schrempf, CEO of Creative Industries Styria which is an organization that champions young designers across Austria, was present at today’s launch:

"Hanna Riebenbauer and Alexander Menzel are exemplary designers who have captured the hearts of Special Olympics athletes and youthful charm in their creation of Lara and Luis. This Mascot will be a fantastic Ambassador for the Games. Technically it is a superb design and Hanna and Alexander are truly deserving of their win.”

 The Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 will take place in Graz, Schladming and Styria from March 14 – March 25th 2017 involving 3,000 athletes from 110 nations competing in 9 sports. Visit


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