Children’s Games come to an end

International event fosters relationships, paves way for future

From left, International Children’s Games President Torsten Rausch, Adirondack North Country Global Sports Committee member JoAnn McKenna, state Olympic Regional Development Authority Director of Corporate Development and Events Jeff Potter, Lake Palcid Village Mayor Craig Randal, and co-directors of the Lake Placid ICG committee Sue Cameron and Eileen Mowery are seen at the closing ceremony of the Lake Placid ICG at the 1932 Jack Shea Arena Thursday night. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

LAKE PLACID — Just by looking at junior speedskaters Carl Shobe and Emily Bos, you’d think they were from the Netherlands, what with their orange puffer coats that have “Alkmaar” printed on the chest, but the two are actually from Minnesota.

“We traded our jackets with some Dutch kids,” Bos said.

“We’ve been trading a lot of stuff this week like pins and hats and candies,” Shobe added. “The Dutch people are awesome and so funny.”

Thursday night marked the end of the 2019 International Children’s Winter Games in Lake Placid. After the closing ceremony at the 1932 Jack Shea Arena at the Olympic Center, the takeaway was that the ICG and Lake Placid accomplished their mission — fostering friendships among children from all across the world.

“I think we have every reason to view it as a complete success,” village Mayor Craig Randall said. “It wasn’t about being the fastest racer or the highest scorer. It was about creating an understanding and community among young people.”

Griffin Shaheen of team Lake Placid, left, and Hamilton’s Nicholas Gyorgypal battle for the puck during Thursday’s boys gold medal hockey matchup at the International Children’s Winter Games. Shaheen hails from Tupper Lake. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Throughout the week, kids shared social media info, played foosball and ping pong together and swapped hats sporting their nations’ colors. As the crowd made its way out of the hockey arena Thursday night, a couple of boys from the U.S. and Iceland teams wrapped their arms around each others’ shoulders and hugged.

Executive Director of the Lake Placid ICG committee Eileen Mowrey had some swag of her own Thursday night — a lanyard full of different international and sports-related pins.

“This place was like trading post all week,” she said. “I think people were struck by how friendly and welcoming our town was, and that’s something we should continue to be proud of.”

The ICG invited more than 450 student-athletes ages 12 to 15 from 14 different countries to compete in winter sporting events such as figure skating, snowboarding, biathlon and more. It adds to the legacy established by other multi-sport international events in Lake Placid such as the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, the 1972 Winter World University Games (Universiade) and the 2000 Goodwill Games.

Randall mentioned something that’s often brought up — not many cities have Olympic venues and a group that maintains them as Lake Placid does with the state Olympic Regional Development Authority. The ICG hosted competitions at the Olympic Center, Speed Skating Oval, Jumping Complex and the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington.

The Tupper Lake Wild Center’s 2019 International Children’s Games “parachute project” is seen at the closing ceremony at the 1932 Jack Shea Arena Thursday night. The parachute contains sentiments from student-athletes on their attitudes toward climate change such as “I love pond hockey” and “I love being able to ski and skate in the Adirondack during the winter. I hope I will be able to enjoy the snow and cold weather forever.” (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

“It was a manageable-sized event that utilized many of our facilities and fit the village to a T.,” Randall said.

Though the ICG was much smaller than the 2023 Universiade, which is expected to draw 2,400 international collegiate athletes, Randall saw this past week’s event as a practice run for bigger competitions.

Mowery shared Randall’s sentiment for more major sporting events.

“I see a bright future for Lake Placid,” she said. “A competition like the Youth Olympics is not something we should shy away from.”

Girls from the Skating Club of Lake Placid perform synchronized dances during the closing ceremony of the 2019 International Children’s Games at the 1932 Jack Shea Arena in Lake Placid Thursday night. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

Potsdam’s Tyler Berkman receives his gold medal from International Children’s Games president Torsten Rausch after Lake Placid won the boys ice hockey championship game Thursday at the Olympic Center. Also pictured in the background are Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall and town of North Elba Parks District Manager Butch Martin. A story about this game appears in today's sports section. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

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