Update given on multiple winter games

LAKE PLACID — Various sport event organizers held a meeting to update the public on upcoming winter sports competitions at the Conference Center Tuesday.

The topics covered were the 2019 winter International Children’s Games, the 2019 Empire State Winter Games, the 2023 International University Sports Federation (FISU) Winter Universiade and updates to state Olympic Regional Development Authority venues.

Children’s Games

2019 winter ICG Director Sue Cameron and ORDA Director of Corporate Development and Events Jeff Potter spoke on the upcoming event, a nine-sport competition that will run from Jan. 6 to 11. They described it as more of a cultural exchange for children age 12 to 15 and less of an event to draw spectators.

Cameron said 13 schools in the North Country are interested in doing programs like pen pals or a special dinner with the visiting student-athletes.

While minimal non-local media coverage is expected, ORDA Communications Manager Jon Lundin said local students will have the opportunity to work as pseudo-press officers and do plenty of social media coverage for the events.

The formal registration for the games starts Sept. 24, but Potter said 400 athletes from countries such as Australia, Germany, Lithuania and Slovenia have already signed up. They’re hoping to get 550 to compete. Add in the athletes’ delegation, and the village is expected to welcome about 750 visitors for the event.

Some people at the meeting thought that number sounded small.

“The summer games are vastly bigger,” Cameron said. “We just got back from the summer games in Jerusalem, and they had about 1,200 people, but winter games don’t tend to draw as much.”

Wilmington town Supervisor Randy Preston announced that Essex County recently made a $50,000 contribution to the winter ICG.

Empire State Winter Games

ROOST Chief of Staff Mary Jane Lawrence said as far as the sports events go, everything is on track for the Empire State Winter Games, but the extra festivities are in somewhat of a limbo right now.

Event Works, an event production company, was hired to manage the games in its entirety. However, Event Works has ended its operations since then, so ROOST will have to look elsewhere for management help.

An athletes village, new last year, was located in the municipal parking lot next to the Conference Center on Main Street. It offered beer and food tastings, a live band and zip-lining, and it was the part of the route for a mountain bike race course. The goal of the village was to create more of a festival and family-oriented feel, so athletes don’t just go to their events and then back to their hotel rooms.

A torch run saw the flame travel 330 miles from New York City to Lake Placid, switching hands along the way. The idea was to gain media coverage as the torch moves through the state.

But was it all worth it?

Most folks at the meeting blamed the cold temperatures for low attendance at the athletes village.

North Woods Hotel General Manager Garrick Smith said he thought the village was a success but agreed the weather played a factor.

“It would have been better if it was just about 10 degrees warmer,” he said.

Crowne Plaza Hotel President Art Lussi said certain elements aren’t worth the money.

“I went to the mountain bike race, and no one was there. It was deader than a doornail. I don’t think we should ask ORDA to spend tens of thousands of dollars to dump all that snow again.”

The director of sales and marketing at the High Peaks Resort and president of the Lake Placid Business Association, Lori Fitzgerald, said removing the athletes village could disappoint returning visitors. She also suggested moving some festivities to Mirror Lake if the ice is thick enough.

“I think there’s a balance we need to find,” Lawrence said. “Last year was the first time we really went out of the gate and sub-contracted to another management company. They had great ideas and executed things very well. They made it very grand and successful. With that said, [Event Works] is no longer available, and to find an organization like that who can do it on that scale has not been successful. So now we have to look at what we can do within our capacity to make it engaging and manageable.”

Universiade

This part of the meeting was relatively short. Bid director Darcy Norfolk gave a quick update on the 2023 Universiade. She spoke of which sports will be featured and that the North Country is expected to take in 3,000 athletes and delegates from around the world.

ROOST CEO James McKenna announced that the Adirondack North Country Sports Council, a separate management group for the games, is currently making a master plan as well as marketing and sponsorship plans for the Universiade.

McKenna related the council to the 2000 Club, a group that was formed in 1986 with the goal of bringing the Olympics back to Lake Placid by the year 2000.

Lussi asked the only question, however; he already knew the answer — “What’s FISU stand for?”

Venues

ORDA CEO and President Mike Pratt spoke on updates to ORDA venues.

The two that have had plenty of focus recently are the Olympic Jumping Complex and the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg.

The ski jumps are scheduled to install refrigerated frost rail systems on the inruns of the 90- and 120-meter jumps, build a new 70-meter jump and replace the 18- and 48-meter jumps with new 18- and 40-meter jumps. Improvements will be made to the landing hills, the elevator will be upgraded, and the 90- and 120-meter jumps will be brought up to International Ski Federation standards.

In addition, the chairlift will be replaced and moved, a tubing park and zip-line complex will be built, and snowmaking upgrades and lighting will be added to the freestyle winter jumping site.

The sports complex is scheduled to get an “alpine coaster” ride for recreation, a second coaster for transport, more cross-country ski trails, a welcome center, an 8 million gallon snowmaking reservoir, a storage structure and a new biathlon stadium, which would be able to host competitions at the World Cup and International Biathlon Union levels.

One of the major developments for the average visitor would be trailheads, connecting the property to Cascade, Porter, Marcy and Pitchoff mountains.

“It can potentially remove 160,000 cars that are parked on Route 73 and Adirondack Loj Road a year,” Pratt said.

People at the audience clapped for that one.

ORDA will give a tour of both facilities after state Adirondack Park Agency meeting Thursday.

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