FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/06/2023
CONTACT: Jon Lundin, Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Head of Communications & Media ([email protected]) Tel: 518-637-6885
BY: Meri-Jo Borzilleri, Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Organizing Committee
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Three athletes who made the field for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games had extra incentive – a chance to compete where they used to live and train. Speed skater Sydney Terpening, along with women’s ice hockey player Moe Tsukimoto and men’s ice hockey player Alex Ray, are coming back to the area to be a part of the 11-day, Jan. 12-22, multi winter sports and educational festival.
Terpening returns to Lake Placid from her training home of Milwaukee, Wisc., where she skates for the Dash Speedskating Team, coached by Olympians Dave Cruikshank and his wife, Bonnie Blair Cruikshank. Yes, that Bonnie Blair, the five-time gold medalist from the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Olympic Winter Games.
The 22-year-old has lived and trained at Milwaukee’s famed Pettit National Ice Center for the past six years, but Lake Placid played a substantial role in a career that has seen her compete on an elite international level – two Junior World Championships and the 2022 U.S. Olympic Trials, where she missed making the team for the 2022 Games in Beijing.
Lake Placid was where Terpening met Adirondack Speedskating Club coach Tom Miller during the Empire State Winter Games. She began speedskating at age nine, but in short track. At the Empire State Winter Games, Terpening, then about age 10 or 11, decided to try the long-track version, on Lake Placid’s James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, where American Eric Heiden won five gold medals during the 1980 Olympics. “I was like, `Well, I’m here so I might as well try the long track because Lake Placid has a beautiful facility and rich history,” she said.
Terpening is looking forward to the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games, where friends and family – mom Traci, dad Ellery and younger sister Samantha — from Oswego and around the state can watch her race. They were unable to do that during the January 2022 Olympic Trials, where spectators were not permitted due to Covid. She is thrilled about the prospect of returning to Lake Placid for the first time since making the World Junior Team in 2018.
“I’m really excited to be back in Lake Placid,” Terpening said. “It’s such a magical place. I’m excited to introduce hidden spots in the town to my teammates who are coming and you know, have basically the whole world in Lake Placid again.”
Tsukimoto, 24, is a 2018 graduate of Northwood School, where she played for four years. A student at Hokkai-Gakuen University in Sapporo, she’s a forward on Japan’s World University Games team.
Tsukimoto started hockey at age four, when she first played on her brother’s team because there are not many girls teams in Japan. Universities have men’s teams but not teams for women, who play for local clubs, like Tsukimoto’s Sapporo Ice Hockey Club.
Living in Japan, this is a rare chance to return to the area and see friends from Northwood, where she moved as a 15-year-old who hardly knew any English. But she knew she loved hockey. “I could write my name in English,” Tsukimoto recalls. “That was pretty much it. I was asking for help a lot.”
During her time at Northwood, Tsukimoto wasn’t homesick for Japan despite the challenges of living in a different country and taking classes taught in English. The hockey was a much higher level than at home too. Yet she loved it. “It was just so fun. All the new things, making new friends. All my teammates were so nice to me. So it wasn’t hard at all.”
When she found the FISU World University Games would take place in Lake Placid, Tsukimoto, who also later played for SUNY Plattsburgh, had extra incentive to make the team. “If I made the team, (Northwood friends) can watch me play and I can see them. A win-win situation. I decided to practice and work hard. And when I made it, I almost cried.”
No. 3 seed Japan, which beat the U.S. for the bronze medal in 2019, Krasnoyarsk, Russia, faces the No. 2 seed United States, Jan. 12, in the opener for both teams. Tsukimoto is excited to play against former SUNY Plattsburgh teammates Annie Katonka and Erin McArdle. Other teams in the field are top seed Canada, No. 4 Great Britain, No. 5 Slovakia and No. 6 Czech Republic. The top four teams advance to the medal rounds, set for Lake Placid’s Herb Brooks Arena Jan. 20 and 21, when the gold-medal game will be played.
Ray of Hasselby, Sweden, returns to the North Country region as a forward with Sweden’s men’s ice hockey team. The 2019 Northwood School graduate is a Sophomore forward with NCAA Div. III King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Penn. He has played in nine games this season and has scored two goals.
“Oh my god, being able to come back to where it all started, my development playing in the U.S. where I’ve spent three years of my high school career, it’s just an amazing thing,” Ray said. “Having all my teachers maybe come and watch and being able to visit my old coaches will be really special.”
Ray said that he originally regretted missing five games with his King’s College team, until he looked into what the FISU World University Games were all about. Following discussions with coaches, including his King’s coach, and his dad made it an easy decision.
“My dad was just really happy,” Ray said. “(He said) you gotta go. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I talked to my coaches, they’re really happy for me.”
Sweden’s team is made of mostly NCAA Div. III players, like Ray, and high-level players in Sweden who meet the age qualifications (age 17-25) for the FISU World University Games.
Sweden is seeded No. 8 in the 12-team field. The team’s first game is against No. 4 Czech Republic on Jan. 12, then No. 1 Canada, Jan. 13. Besides Canada and the Czech Republic, Sweden’s Group A consists of No. 5 Latvia, No. 9 Japan and No. 12 Ukraine.
“I don’t really know a lot about the Czech team, but I think it’s going to be great and a good start,” he said. “We play Canada next, so it’s a good game to get into it and really test ourselves. We’ll build chemistry for the games, see where we’re at and go from there.”
As for Sweden’s medal chances, it’s motivating to know the top four teams will get the chance to play at the Olympic Center’s 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, he said.
He also noted Canada and the U.S. are favorites for medals, but don’t count out Sweden. It’s hockey. As the 1980 Miracle on Ice team showed, anything can happen.
“We have a chance to get out there and get a medal,” Ray said. “It’s just an exciting time to measure ourselves and really just play hard and compete and hopefully, we have a chance for sure.”
The Jan. 12-22 Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games will bring together 1,443 collegiate-athletes, ages 17-25, from more than 540 universities in 46 countries to participate in Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, freestyle and free ski, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, short track speed skating, snowboarding, ski jumping and speed skating. Athletes will compete in 85 medal events in Lake Placid and the North Country area, including Saranac Lake, Wilmington, North Creek, Potsdam and Canton.
Fans can follow the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with @LakePlacid2023, @SaveWinterHQ, #lakeplacid2023, #savewinter.
For more information about the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games or to purchase tickets, visit www.lakeplacid2023.com.