By PAT BRADLEY / WAMC
Since last November, Lake Placid officials have been investigating the possibility of hosting the 2023 Winter World University Games. Last month, a delegation made an initial presentation to international sports officials and is now working on a formal bid.
An Adirondack delegation went to the World University Games in Kazakhstan last January to begin looking at the feasibility of hosting the games. Lake Placid’s mayor subsequently sent a letter to the United States International University Sports Federation asking that the village be considered as a host community. Then, in June, a contingent from the International University Sport Federation visited Lake Placid for an unofficial preliminary walkthrough of the village’s winter sports venues.
In late August, members of the Lake Placid/Adirondack Global Sport Committee traveled to the 29th Summer University games to make an introductory presentation to the 35-member FISU (fee-sue)Executive Committee. Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President and CEO Jim McKenna was among those who made the trip. “We had a delegation of 6 people there and we did an introductionary presentation to the World University Sports Federation Executive Committee and that went well. They told us that it was probably one of the better presentations that they heard during their meetings. And then we had meetings set up with all of the key components of hosting games like this and what it meant. And we’ve made the decision that we are moving forward with the bid.”
The Winter World University Games include alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, hockey, short track speed skating, and snowboarding. So, McKenna notes, if the bid is successful, they would utilize most of the existing Olympic facilities in Lake Placid. “It would use all of the existing Olympic facilities in Placid with the ah, not the sliding sports or the bobsled, luge and skeleton. We would maybe do some demonstrations in those sports. But it would utilize all the other facilities and probably facilities throughout the region as well.”
Even though the games aren’t until 2023, McKenna says the timeframe to complete their bid is short. “We would have to put our bid dossier together between now and December 31st. And then there would be an official site evaluation by the World University group. And then likely a decision would be made in March of 2018.”
Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall says this effort illustrates their mission to bring more winter sports competition to the Adirondack village. “It is a plan of the village to try to bring more winter events to Lake Placid that can make use of our venues. That’s the reason they were built. We believe that our objective of bringing back events such as the International Winter Children’s Games and the FISU Winter Universiade Games are events that go in that direction. They’re also events that Lake Placid can comfortably accommodate and as we’ve demonstrated in recent years with the Empire State Winter Games the Universiade in particular is of a similar size to what we’re already doing and it helps to keep Lake Placid’s name and brand out there in the world as being a site where these type of events can be attracted.”
While Mayor Randall calls the idea of a third winter Olympics in the village a long shot, he finds events such as the World University Games crucial to the economic viability of the region. “My hope frankly from an economic standpoint is that it brings renewed interest in Lake Placid and investment in Lake Placid and equally important investment in the venues that we’re operating so that we do remain strong and relevant in the winter sports world. So really we’re looking at these more as regional events that have the scope to enhance the economy not only of Lake Placid but also our surrounding communities.”
McKenna also points to the value of attracting such competitions as an economic driver for the Adirondack region. “This actually really came through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council that the Governor has set up. It was a priority program of the council starting two years ago. And as all programs are it takes a little while to get them off the ground. But we’re now moving forward not only with the World University Games but there’s three other multi-sport global events that we’re starting to evaluate now as well.”
At the end of the Adirondack Summer Challenge in July, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Lake Placid will host the Bobsled and Skeleton World Championships in 2021 and the International Children’s Games in 2019.