FISU 2023 Winter Games invites international delegates to Lake Placid this week

Eric Kerr

It’s been nearly 30 years since the United States of America hosted the FISU winter games at Buffalo, New York. In just a few months, Lake Placid will help America do it again.

“We are four months away, we’re excited,” said Delise O’Meally, FISU 2023 games coordinator. “The organizing committee is prepared, and we look forward to celebrating through sport once again.

The 2023 FISU Winter Games will bring together 1,425 athletes from over 50 countries and six universities to compete in 12 different sporting events. The sports such as ice hockey, alpine skiing, speed skating and curling will offer 86 medal events with a total of 174 gold medals for the winners.

Each of the events will be spread out over nine separate competition venues across Lake Placid, Potsdam, Canton and North Creek. Some of the facilities include Cheel Arena, Roos House, Maxcy Hall, Whiteface Mountain, The James Sheffield OIympic Speed Skating Oval, and the 1932 Olympic Center.

Delegates representing the athletes attended FISU’s annual HoD meeting, discussing all the plans and details the competitors will need to know before their Jan. 7 arrival next year.

The athletes, coaches and team medical staff will be staying in villages spread out across Essex County. Some will stay in hotels like the Hampton Inn and Great Escape Lodge, but will also be housed in school dormitories at Paul Smith’s College, SUNY Potsdam and the Northwood School.

“The benefits for the organizing committee and for the athletes and delegations coming here is instant infrastructure,” said Gary Moy, FISU’s head of athlete and village management. “Not only do they have dormitories, but they also have some gyms and other facilities which will make putting on the games relatively easy on our side.”

Athletes will be provided food via the dining halls in their respective housing area. They will also be provided meals during scheduled training times and competition days.

International athletes intend to arrive from either Albany International Airport, Montreal International Airport or Newark Airport in New Jersey. Transportation to pick up athletes from the airport, to the games, and then back to the airport is only available from Albany and not from Montreal or Newark.

The FISU organizing committee says the potential issues surrounding Montreal’s airport include long wait times to pass through the border to reach their vehicle and needing two VISAs to enter Canada and then the United States. It’s issues like these that they are working on fixing and open to talk with the delegates on the subject in future meetings this week.

“It is a process that we really have evaluated,” said Ashley Walden, FISU Games’ chief operating officer. “What we would like to do is have further conversations at the roundtable, so I’d like to learn about where you flew through and where you arrived so we can continue conversations about this.”

The FISU Winter Games will also have medical teams available at each competition, providing any help with first aid, doping control and preventing the spread of highly contagious diseases like polio, monkeypox or COVID-19.

FISU is abiding by New York state, county and federal COVID-19 policies for a minimum 11-day quarantine if they cannot wear a mask during their event. The policy has led the team to ensure they are staying ahead of the game to prevent their athletes from sitting out from the entire competition.

“We’re going to ensure that we have good hygiene measures in place at all of the venues,” said Tracy Viola, FISU’s head of medical service and doping control. “Hand sanitizing, sinks, soap and water available … including all athletes, and delegates and volunteers being vaccinated against COVID.”

The organizers hope the plan falls smoothly into place ahead of their opening ceremony. It will occur at the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena inside the Olympic Center at Lake Placid at 7 p.m. Jan. 12.

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