A ski jumper from Lake Placid competes during the Empire State Winter Games.
It just keeps getting bigger.
The 2014 Empire State Winter Games, set to take place Feb. 6-9, will feature some new events and new venues for the 34th annual sporting competition, something that members of the regional organizing coalition have been striving to do over the last four years.
“We are starting to see some of those goals come to be,” ROOST Executive Director Jim McKenna said. “We are growing the games throughout the region, we are growing it by the number of athletes and we are growing it by time. This is the largest multi-sport winter event held on an annual basis in the United States. The athletes all have uniforms and are on teams so they all feel like this is something special, which it is.”
The games will be held over four days, three of which fall on the same days as the start of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
“If you look at the alumni list of the Empire State Games, it is pretty impressive,” Sandy Caligiore said. “This event has a quality place in the winter sports world.”
“It is an unbelievable opportunity for young people throughout the state of New York to get a high, Olympic quality experience they would not otherwise get,” Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said. “There are several of these athletes that have gone on to be Olympians, and that is what the goal of Lake Placid is.”
“This is going to be a great tie-in with the Olympics opening in Russia,” McKenna said.
ESG will also be expanding its reach into Tupper Lake, where the women’s hockey competition will be held.
Replacing women’s hockey at the Olympic Center will be a youth ice hockey tournament. There will also be another version of hockey on display the Saturday of the games, adaptive sled hockey.
McKenna added there will also be celebrations and events held throughout the games.
“We want to make this a more festive event not only for the athletes and their families but for our local communities as well,” he said.
This is the fourth year the event has been hosted by a regional coalition that includes North Elba, Harrietstown, Brighton, Wilmington, Jay, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Essex and Franklin County, ROOST and the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority. Over 1,000 athletes are expected for the games, with events taking place at the Olympic venues managed by ORDA in Lake Placid and Wilmington along with other sites in Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Paul Smiths.
The ESWG Opening Ceremony, free and open to the public, will be held Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m. in the Olympic Center’s 1980 Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid. A torch run will begin Wednesday, Feb. 5, and will travel through the North Country to its destination in Lake Placid at the Opening Ceremony.
According to organizers, 21 different disciplines will be contested, from alpine skiing to figure skating to women’s ice hockey, including six different adaptive contests, with a higher level of competitive adaptive alpine racers who will ski the challenging Draper’s Drop course at Whiteface Mountain. Adaptive races in biathlon are set for the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg, with adaptive cross country sprints on the Olympic Oval.
Athlete registration will be available starting Nov. 25 on the Games website empirestatewintergames.com.