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Empire State Winter Games begin this week in Lake Placid

Photo of Empire State Winter Games banner
Pat Bradley/WAMC
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Photo of Empire State Winter Games banner

The Empire State Winter Games kick off Thursday night with opening ceremonies in Lake Placid.

The games are an annual Olympic style competition for youth that utilize Olympic and other sporting venues in Lake Placid and the Adirondacks. Originally a state program, 10 years ago it transitioned to a community and regionally sponsored event.

Spokesman Jon Lundin said this year the competition runs Friday through Sunday.

“These games annually are the largest event that comes to Lake Placid and the Adirondack region with some 2,000 athletes and families and friends and supporters.”

Before the competition begins, Opening Ceremonies are Thursday evening on the beach at Mirror Lake.

“Really the highlight of this is the parade of athletes. When you see almost 1,800 athletes come onto the lakefront under the archway all celebrating the fact that they’re returning to Lake Placid to be a part of these Empire State Winter Games that’s really what it’s about." Lundin adds, "And we’ve pared down the opening ceremonies a little bit because we are outside. But too we really want to celebrate the return of the athletes to Lake Placid.”

The Empire State Winter Games were put on hold last year due to the pandemic. In the last two years the Olympic Regional Development Authority, ORDA, has been upgrading facilities in preparation for the 2023 World University Games. Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin says some athletes will compete on new venues and others on in-progress ones.

“New York state has invested a lot of money in upgrading our venues and it’s a great chance to utilize them and showcase them. Part of it is going to be the test or the difficulty for ORDA running the events during construction because certainly the Olympic Arena’s not done by any means. But I’m sure they’ve got the parts open that are needed," reports Mayor Devlin. "And the speed skating oval only opened up a few months ago so that’s definitely going to be a test. And if anybody has been out to the ski jumps, the Intervale or Mt. Van Hoevenberg sliding and cross country and Nordic tracks they’re world class. They’ve been proven especially with the Olympic trials.”

Lundin says Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Wilmington, Malone and Paul Smiths will all host events.

“The Empire State Games are the largest winter multi-sport event in the United States. And we’ll have 30 sports and we’ll include adaptive athletes as well. New this year is sled hockey. Other sports that people may not be as aware of is e-sports which will be taking place at Paul Smiths College. And one of my favorite sports, and you really have to watch it in person, television just doesn’t do it justice," Lundin enthuses, "is ski jumping. It is the original daredevil sport of all winter sports. And if you watch it in person you truly get an appreciation as to the courage of these boys and girls.”

As for the predicted snowstorm, Mayor Devlin cautions people traveling to the area to be careful, but otherwise isn’t worried.

“Lake Placid, that’s what we do is snow in winter. So from our standpoint I don’t see any major problems there. Most of the people coming also know winter.”

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