Sixty-five athletes and 30 coaches and staff are off to Corner Brook, N.L. to compete in the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games and they could barely contain their excitement as they left from the Calgary airport Sunday.

One mother was thrilled for her son, who competes in speed skating.

"It is very exciting and I am hoping my son comes back with four Golds but whatever he comes back with, it is acceptable," Sue Levesconte said.

Sue Levesconte

Sue Levesconte's son is a Team Alberta speed skater. She says the competition it tough but friendships are equally important. (CBC)

She says the competition is the culmination of a lot of hard work and commitment.

"It is a very hard competition … It is a talent that you have to have."

Jodi Flanagan is the manager for Team Alberta.

Jodi Flanagan

Jodi Flanagan is the manager for Team Alberta. She says the winter games will be a new experience for many of the athletes. (CBC)

She says the competition is about new experiences for many of the athletes, for some, even getting on a plane is brand new.

"Some athletes have not travelled ever," Flanagan said.

"Some have been numerous places but this could be some new beginnings for a lot of people."

Athletes who do well at the five-day games, which begin Tuesday, could go on to the world event in Austria next year.

"Not everybody will go and that is not necessarily the goal for everybody, we want to see a lot of personal bests, but that is certainly an opportunity that exists," Flanagan explained.

For a mother though, seeing her son have a chance to share a safe place with old friends and new, is a big part of the attraction.

"They are going to meet some friends that they have competed in the past with and now they are all going to be reunited," Levesconte said.

"And they are looking forward to meeting those people and meeting new friends."