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Empire State Winter Games is a great event for Lake Placid ... and the entire Park
February 9, 2018

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Even though the Empire State Winter Games has grown from a Lake Placid event to an Adirondack event - with venues across the North Country - it still benefits Lake Placid in a big way and we are thankful to all the partners who continue to keep the games going.

When the first Empire State Winter Games came to Lake Placid in mid-March 1981, it was sponsored by the state of New York. Fresh on the heels of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, the ESWG began the same year the state founded the Olympic Regional Development Authority to operate the 1932 and 1980 Olympic venues. One way to keep those venues viable was to get kids from around the state involved in winter sports and have them compete in Lake Placid.

Even the governor showed up for the opening ceremony on Friday, March 13.

"Tonight, we begin a tradition," said Gov. Hugh Carey, not knowing that a fiscal crisis would cause the state to cancel the ESWG 30 years later.

In November 2010, we learned that the state canceled all the Empire State Games - summer and winter - not with an official announcement but through the games organizers who were told the news during a conference call.

So much for tradition.

Yet, maybe -?just maybe - this was a blessing in disguise. Getting the state out of the Empire State Winter Games business may have been the best thing to happen to the games. After the state cut funding, a coalition of regional and local entities -?along with state partners - took over the organization and operation of the ESWG, and they have grown them into a regional event that now draws more than 2,100 athletes from across the state to the North Country region.

And Lake Placid is still in the center of it all. With the ESWG Village located in the Main Street municipal parking lot, across the street from the post office, Lake Placid remains the headquarters for the games. The opening ceremony continues to be held in the Olympic Center's Herb Brooks Arena. And that's all great for Lake Placid.

LPEC Quality Destination, Inc., a subsidiary of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, is fiscally responsible for the games.

Now the ESWG is a community-driven event, which is much better than just having the state run it. It consists of a partnership between ROOST; the towns of North Elba, Wilmington, Tupper Lake, Harrietstown, Malone, and Brighton; the villages of Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, Paul Smiths, Malone, Wilmington, and Saranac Lake; the counties of Essex and Franklin; ORDA; and state Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury.

Since taking over the ESWG in February 2011, the event continues to add venues across the region and spread the athletes, families and spectators to communities throughout the Adirondacks, to Lake Placid, Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Malone and Paul Smiths.

Lake Placid has plenty of experience hosting winter sports events locally. Now it has experience hosting winter sports events throughout an entire region. That will serve us well in the future as the Olympic-style events we seek to host will require a regional approach for venues.

Olympics, anyone?

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