Lake Placid signs on for 2019 International Children’s Games
LAKE PLACID — Tuesday morning marked a historic sports moment, not only for Lake Placid but the United States.
Village Mayor Craig Randall and International Children’s Games President Torsten Rasch signed a contract at the Olympic Jumping Complex’s Intervale base lodge, making Lake Placid the site of the winter games from Jan. 6 to 11, 2019.
The International Children’s Games is a International Olympic Committee-sanctioned competition featuring athletes ages 12 to 15 from cites around the world. The United States hosted the summer games in 2004 and 2008 in Cleveland and San Francisco, respectively, but this will be the first time the country hosts the winter games. They took place in North America once, in Kelowna, British Columbia, in 2011.
Featuring events such as skiing, figure skating and snowboarding, the winter games in Lake Placid are a great way for young athletes from all over the world to come together for competition and teamwork, according to Rasch.
“I always say, ‘Ask the children,'” he said. “I’m an old man. It’s not about me. They will tell you how they felt. It will be a great event here next year, and we are really thrilled to be here.”
Randall and Rasch exchanged handshakes, kind words and gifts. Rasch gave Randall a Children’s Games winter hat and necktie. Randall tied a half-Windsor around his neck with the new tie, while Rasch noted he was the first mayor to don the accessory right away after receiving it.
“We’re happy to have the International Children’s Game in Lake Placid” Randall said. “I’m hoping that the first time is only the first of many to come.”
Another aspect of the winter games is the cultural exchange program. Though still in their planning stages, many school districts in the area such as Tupper Lake, Lake Placid and Newcomb will facilitate communications between American and foreign students.
“Between now and next year we’re going to develop relationships with the different teams of students that are coming,” said Michelle Pinard, principal of L.P. Quinn Elementary School in Tupper Lake. “When they’re here, we’re going to cheer them on and hopefully interact with them in a way that will expose them and us to each other, so that we can promote cultural understanding and hopefully a little peace later on.
“When you cheer for somebody or you ask when they fell down, ‘Are you OK?’ suddenly that person’s a human being and not necessarily somebody behind some flag that we’ve learned to fear.”
Betsy Comeau is a retired teacher of Newcomb Central School and an active host mother for foreign exchange students.
“The wonderful thing about hosting these children is when we have our sit-down dinners night,” she said. “We discuss food, customs, the school day, and we learn so much about each other and realize how much more connected we are than different.”
The summer version of the International Children’s Games was first held in 1968 and has been held most years since then, sometimes in multiple countries in the same year. The winter version has been much more sporadic. It began in 1994 and has been held six times since then, with anywhere from one to 10 years in between. The last winter games were held in January 2016 in Austria, and the Lake Placid area sent a contingent of 18 young competitors as local officials considered bidding to host the games.
Lake Placid officials say they expect between 500 and 800 young athletes to compete in the games next January. A $250,000 state grant will pay for these students’ room and board.