LAKE PLACID Athletes from throughout New York State will hit the slopes, the rink and other venues in Lake Placid next weekend. The 28th Empire State Winter Games, an amateur athletic event for New York residents, will take place from Feb. 22-24 at Olympic Regional Development Authority venues. About 1,400 athletes from every county in the state are expected to participate. Winter Games executive director Fred Smith said the event was intended to be a fun, family weekend. Amateurs compete in alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsled, cross country skiing, figure skating, womens ice hockey, luge, skeleton, ski orienteering, snowshoe races, ski jumping and speed skating. These are New York's best winter sport athletes, and it's a great way to see them shine. Perhaps you'll be watching them in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada (at the Winter Olympics), said Smith. Smith pointed out 21 athletes at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino previously participated in the Empire State Games. Friday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m., the games kick off with opening ceremonies in the Herb Brooks Arena at the Olympic Center, Main Street, Lake Placid. The traditional parade of athletes, video presentation, and torch lighting will highlight the ceremony. Admission is free. Immediately following the opening ceremonies Friday evening will be the 12th annual Winter Festival sponsored by the New York Lottery. Throughout the Olympic Center, there will be activities, games, and music until 8:30 p.m. Athletes will compete Saturday before things cool down with the Chill Out. Saturday night, from 5-7:30 p.m., live music and food, games, prizes, and fireworks will take place at Olympic Drive and Main Street in Lake Placid (next to the Olympic Center). The featured band will be The Refrigerators. There is no closing ceremony, so events wrap up on Sunday afternoon with the end of competition. Smith said there was a good involvement from competitots throughout the state. Along with having every county represented, athletes ranging from teenagers through septuagenarians will participate. Athletes had to qualify for the games by competing in a regional qualifier. For more information and a complete schedule of activities, go on-line to www.empirestategames.org .