Lake Placid sets tall targets

By Tina Sharma Tiwari  / FISU Press Officer

Lake Placid 2023 Winter Universiade aims to catalyse economic development in the Adirondack region of the state of New York, and set benchmarks for environmental sustainability.

LAUSANNE – When Ashley Walden, Project Director of the Adirondack Sports Council said, “We see this as an opportunity to be world leaders in environment sustainability,” she set the tone for much of what Lake Placid aims to achieve through hosting the Winter Universiade 2023. During week-long meetings in the Olympic capital, a delegation from Lake Placid presented their vision and plans to the FISU leadership and concerned departments.

Lake Placid 2023 delegation with FISU staff in LausanneWith more than three years to go, the Lake Placid Organising Committee (Adirondack Sports Council) has set itself ambitious targets of driving economic revitalisation and environmental consciousness through the Winter Universiade. In fact, these were the very reasons they bid for the games in the first place.

“The regional economic group for the whole area was looking at appropriate ways to revitalise economic development in the area and right away, they zeroed in on the 1980 Olympic facilities that needed an upgrade,” said James McKenna, Chair of the Adirondack North Country Sports Council.  

“To entice more private investment, the plan was to look at multi-sport international sporting events and refurbish the Olympic facilities at the same time,” he continued. “The one we were looking at, as the anchor, was the World University Games. From our experience in 1980 we know such international sporting events lead to a more sustainable economy.”

Scott Christiansen, VP Marketing & Sales, New York Olympic Regional Development Authority added, “We have looked at per capita direct spending analysis at these venues and at such events and the trajectory for that continues to rise. Depending on the numbers we have in 2023 – guests, athletes, delegation officials – we can foresee some decent direct spending. This, for the community and the venues, is exciting.”

The Winter Universiade 2023 has taken a pioneering approach to the entire project. Not only are they looking to set the standard in economic and environmental viability, but have also outlined concrete, direct benefits that the games will provide to the local community.

“One of our objectives is to provide community housing,” said Ashley Walden. “Right now, the town of Lake Placid is really a tourist town, so it can be difficult for communities and local families to afford housing. What we are going to accomplish with the Athletes Village and Media Village is that we are going to be able to, in the end, offer housing to local families so they stay on in the area.”

Moreover, she added, the objective is to create a legacy that today’s generation can relate to. “Through research we have found that the generation that relates to 1980 Winter Olympics is moving on. The younger generations don’t know about the ‘Miracle on Ice’. This is our opportunity to renew that sport legacy.”

Most importantly though, Walden underscored their environmental objectives. “New York state has one of the most aggressive climate initiatives that has ever been seen in the United States,” she said. “By 2050 Governor Andrew M Cuomo has made a number of promises for the state.”

“In the Adirondack region, this is very important to us because ours is an environmentally sensitive climate. We also see this as an opportunity to display that to the world.”

It is not just lip service. The plan is to contribute a significant percentage, the exact figure as yet undecided, to an environmental cause or climate change charity.

With the State of New York not only backing the bid, but in fact being one of the biggest supporters at the moment, the Winter Universiade 2023 is already on track to being a pathbreaking, pioneering event. With nearly four years still to go, this can only bode well for the thousands of student athletes who will, at that stage, be the world’s best and will convene in Lake Placid.