The World University Games have arrived

The Winter World University Games are here.

Though the games are already underway — men’s and women’s ice hockey competition began in Potsdam and Canton on Wednesday — today, events in the Tri-Lakes are kicking off, starting with the Opening Ceremony in Lake Placid at 7 p.m.

This is an exciting time. In Saranac Lake, we will get to see world-class curlers use our newly-renovated Civic Center for the first time. The World University Games’ “round robin” style curling tournaments start tomorrow and continue through Jan. 21.

That’s only possible because this community came together to make it happen.

More than 300 people, businesses and foundations — including Barrie and Dee Dee Wigmore, who donated $500,000 — raised more than $1.8 million toward the total $7 million cost to overhaul the Civic Center. (The state contributed the rest.) Even better than being able to host curling throughout the games: We’ll get plenty of use out of this investment in the future.

We’re looking forward to cheering on some locals competing in the games. Two Paul Smith’s College students, Aidan Ripp and Timothy Ziegler, are competing in Nordic combined at Mt. Van Hoevenberg and the Olympic Jumping Complex. We’ll get to see homegrown athlete Van Ledger compete alongside Paul Smith’s College students Dolcie Tanguay and Nathan Livingood in biathlon. Sydney Terpening, who trained in Lake Placid, will return to the Olympic Speedskating Oval to compete. In Canton and Potsdam, two Northwood School graduates — Alex Ray and Moe Tsukimoto — are competing for the Sweden mens hockey team and Japan womens hockey team, respectively.

This will also be an amazing opportunity to meet new people from all around the world — according to organizers, athletes representing 46 nations are participating — and see some great competition.

Locally, we’ve had a front row seat to watch as a kernel of an idea — to bring the World University Games to Lake Placid — grew into something real. We watched as the state invested more than $550 million into updating venues managed by the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, and waited as those venues underwent construction for years. We also watched — perhaps a little less enthusiastically, considering the inconvenience — as Lake Placid’s Main Street underwent a multi-year, more than $10 million streetscape redesign and infrastructure upgrade. Private businesses have invested money into renovations ahead of the games, too.

The hope in bringing the games to our region was that it would spur investment into our aging winter sports venues, encourage the construction of new housing to alleviate the area’s affordable housing crisis, further solidify Lake Placid’s winter sports legacy and have a broad economic impact.

The venues are updated. National and international competition is happening in Lake Placid. The promised housing largely didn’t materialize, though at least one new housing complex in Lake Placid was built. As for the economic impact, it’s too soon to say whether the promise will live up to the reality. For now, it’s time to enjoy the spectacle, make memories and cheer on athletes from all around the world.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today