A skater at the 2011 Winter Empire State Games.
Now in its third year of local organization, the Empire State Winter Games are preparing for opening ceremonies Feb. 7.
“This is the third year that we have picked this up from the state and the numbers have remained pretty consistent,” Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism Director Jim McKenna, who heads the organization of the games.
McKenna said that the games will again be coupled with both the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival and a luge World Cup event that will be held the same week.
“Our goal is to offer more for the families and athletes to do while they are here in the region,” McKenna said. “We did this last year with the Winter Carnival. With the luge event, we feel this is a great opportunity because a lot of luge athletes have started out here and come through the Empire State Games program.”
According to organizers, the games will officially begin with an Opening Ceremony Thursday night, Feb. 7, in the Lake Placid Olympic Center’s Herb Brooks Arena. A torch run through the North Country will begin Wednesday, Feb. 6, and conclude at the Opening Ceremony. An awards celebration and fireworks display will be held on Saturday night, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. in Mid’s Park on Main Street in Lake Placid, near the Palace Theater.
Most events will be held on the venues of the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) in Lake Placid and Wilmington.
“Athletes from New York and around the world have come to rely on ORDA to prepare world class venue for their events,” said ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer. “Next month will be no different. All the early snow is a true blessing, but snowmaking, grooming and ice preparation is on our daily to-do list. So when these athletes arrive, they will have the best conditions possible for training and racing.”
Nineteen different disciplines will be contested, from alpine skiing to figure skating to women’s ice hockey, including a number of adaptive contests. The alpine skiing competitions will include athletes from the New York State Ski Racing Association. In recent years, organizers have also included more “new school” events with skiercross, boardercross and slopestyle competitions, most coming under the banner of the United States of America Snowboard Association.
Adaptive races are slated for alpine skiing, biathlon, boardercross and cross country skiing.
For more information on the 33rd edition of this winter sports festival, visit empirestatewintergames.com.