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In 1989, the inaugural Badger State Winter Games were held in Wausau and the five-sport festival attracted 1,633 athletes. By 2000, the Winter Games featured ten sports and more than 6,000 athletes, making it the largest winter sports festival of its type in the United States.
Mark Martinez, vice-president of marketing and communications, says hockey was the most popular sport during the 2001 event. Cross-country skiing had the most individual participants, at 1,388.