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PSC names new biathlon stadium, trails

Nordic complex honors Rochester area native and college trustee E Philip Saunders

E. Philip Saunders

PAUL SMITHS — The new cross country skiing network at Paul Smith’s College is now known as the E. Philip Saunders Nordic and Biathlon Stadium.

The site is named after the Rochester native who has spent many years in the Adirondacks. He purchased a home in Lake Placid after the 1980 Winter Olympics, has been a fixture on the region’s golf courses since that time, and was a long-time participant in the Adirondack Classic 90-mile canoe race.

Saunders took a seat on the Paul Smith’s College Board of Trustees in 1991, and served as board chairman from 2010-2016. On May 4, 2003, he received an honorary Ph. D in Commercial Science.

Saunders remains a trustee to this day. This is the second venue dedication to Saunders at the College of the Adirondacks. The Saunders Athletic Complex bears the name of the Dansville resident.

He has been a vocal supporter of the PSC sport and education initiative whereby elite level athletes can attend the college while simultaneously training and competing in their winter sport.

“To provide our athletes with a chance to get an education as they prepare to represent their country at an Olympic Games resonates greatly with me,” said Saunders. “It is also time that the USA becomes a top nation in these sports. This stadium is special to me, and will help us achieve those goals where we merge the two concepts. I’m proud to have my name on it.”

PSC has been named an Official Sport and Education Training Center by US Biathlon and USA Nordic.

The racing venue features a new five-kilometer network to be used for competition and training of PSC student-athletes. The trails are slated for future homologation (certification) by the International Ski Federation and the International Biathlon Union.

A graduate of Rochester East High School, Saunders took his father’s local gas station in 1958 and ultimately grew the business nationally into Travel Centers of America, one of the country’s biggest truck stop and travel centers. He also owned Griffith Oil, founded Genesee Regional Bank, and grew the Sugar Creek Convenience Store chain.

Saunders currently has ownership interests in Swain Resort, south of Rochester, and Essex Property Management. He’s a member of the Rochester Business Hall of Fame.

This is the second university involvement for Saunders after the establishment of the Saunders School of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

In addition to serving on the PSC board of trustees, Saunders also sits on the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross in Rochester, the National Association of Truckstop Operators Foundation and RIT.

“As a relative newcomer to the college, it didn’t take me long to realize the enormous debt of gratitude we owed to E. Phil Saunders for his amazing service and generosity over more than 30 years,” said Jon C. Strauss, Interim President of Paul Smith’s College. “Accordingly, it was only fitting that I could recommend to the Board of Trustees that we name the new E. Phil Saunders Nordic and Biathlon Stadium in his honor.”

This is the second dedication of the winter at PSC after the naming of a new Nordic ski trail in honor of Caroline Draper Lussi of Lake Placid.

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