The Team Behind The Games

BY: Sara Donatello, Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Publications Coordinator

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — This past February, members of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games’ Organizing Committee, traveled to Beijing to help support the Olympic Winter Games. Claire DelNegro, Director of Games Operations & Services, Fred Zimny, Manager of Sports Services & Operations, Tracey Viola, Head of Medical Services and Doping Control, and Steve Maroni, Head of Ceremonies, recently returned back to Lake Placid, bringing with them additional insight and information as Lake Placid and the surrounding North Country region gears up to play host to the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games, January 12-22, 2023. I had the chance to sit down with each of them and asked them to share their experiences in Beijing and what we may be able to look forward to next winter.


Q: What does it mean to you to have been a part of the Olympic Games in Beijing, especially with the current state of COVID-19?

Claire: “I wasn’t sure what to expect during this global pandemic, but the Chinese put on an excellently organized Games despite the extremely challenging conditions. I was impressed by the hard work and the kindness of the thousands of volunteers involved. It gives you hope that the people of the world can come together peacefully, and that is the essence of the Olympic spirit.”

Q: What was the best moment of the Olympic Games for you?

Fred: “The best moment of the Games had to be the Opening Ceremonies. There was a small group of us from the International Luge Federation that were able to go and it was a good show. At the beginning of the Games, there is still all the anticipation of what is to come, so it’s a very special time. Also very special was the opportunity to catch up with coaches and staff who have been friends for years, but because of Covid, I have not been able to see in literally years. It was a great opportunity to rekindle relationships in a very special setting.”

Steve: “It’s an enormous honor to be able to be a part of producing Olympic events.  I have an opportunity to represent my country and play an important role in the presentation of the largest sporting event in the world. I also enjoy learning about the local culture and making new friends.”

Q: With your experiences in Beijing, how do you think it will compare to the upcoming World University Games in Lake Placid, aside from the size difference?

Tracey: “I first hope that we will be in a better place with COVID, in a place that we are just living with COVID, and we are not having such significant outbreaks and variants. My goal with our Games, aside from providing the best care possible, is to find a way that athletes, staff, volunteers and spectators can enjoy these Games, while also protecting all involved, and our local communities.”

Q: What do you think that Lake Placid should be looking forward to in January?  

Claire: “A festive atmosphere with an exciting variety of winter sports competitions and a chance to highlight our community’s ability to welcome the world and host a multi-sport, multi-day event to be enjoyed by all.”

Fred: “Lake Placid is no rookie to large-scale international events. The 2023 FISU World University Games will be one more event that Lake Placid can be proud of and with the people currently working to make it a successful event, I have no doubt we’ll see great competitions taking place on some of the best venues in the world.”

Tracey: “An amazing display of sport and sportsmanship, seeing world-class athletes, and some future Olympians, competing and giving it their all, simply for the love of the Game.”

Steve: “Lake Placid should prepare for an 11-day party that embraces the local community, celebrate the competition of sport and showcases the amazing offerings of the Lake Placid area to athletes from all over the world. The international delegations and athletes will be bring the diversity of the world to Lake Placid.”

Q: Why should the world tune in to watch the historic FISU World University Games competitions?  

Claire: “This may sound optimistic, but I’m hoping we will be coming out of the pandemic. I  think these Games are a great chance for everyone to join in a celebration of life, youth and sport and join together to steer us to a brighter future for the generations ahead.”

Fred: “If you like sports, this is one you won’t want to miss. The beauty of Lake Placid and the Adirondacks, with elite level athletes, competing on  newly renovated Olympic level venues make it a must-see event.”

Tracey: “For the amazing display of sport and sportsmanship, seeing world-class athletes competing and giving it their all, simply for the love of the Game.”