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Universiade reps happy but say Van Ho needs overhaul

February 7, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

WILMINGTON - Lake Placid is getting some pretty positive vibes from the International University Sports Federation (FISU) in regard to potentially hosting the 2023 Winter World University Games.

Lake Placid is the only bidder to host the games, also called the Winter Universiade. Last week, a FISU evaluation team, the Adirondack North Country Global Sports Committee and Delise O'Meally, secretary general of FISU's United States branch, visited sports venues and lodging facilities across the North Country. These included the ice rinks at SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Potsdam, St. Lawrence University and Lake Placid's Olympic Center; the ski jumps, sliding track, nordic ski center and Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid; Whiteface and Gore Mountain ski centers in Wilmington and North Creek; and various hotels and motels throughout the Adirondacks.

The consensus at a press conference Friday, Feb. 2 was that the evaluation teams were happy with what they saw.

Article Photos

From left, U.S. International University Sports Federation Secretary General Delise O’Meally, state Olympic Regional Development Authority President Mike Pratt, International University Sports Federation delegates Marian Dymalski, Eric Saintrond and Torin Koos, and ORDA Vice President Jeff Byrne sit on the panel at a press conference on potential venues and lodging for the 2023 Winter World University Games Friday, Feb. 2 at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington.
(News photos — Griffin Kelly)

FISU Winter Games Director Milan Augustin said many of the venues they evaluated haven't been refurbished since the 1980 Winter Olympics. Despite that, he said the only site that would need major refurbishments is the Mount Van Hoevenberg cross-country skiing and biathlon center.

"Sports like cross country and biathlon are the first which has to be basically built from scratch," Augustin said.

FISU delegate Eric Saintrond mentioned that some host cities in the past were not entirely prepared for the games. He mentioned how sometimes political and economic landscapes switch between the time a host city is chosen and when the games start.

Granada, Spain, hosted the 2015 Winter World University Games; however, the city couldn't create all the venues they had planned, so certain events such as nordic skiing, ski jumping and biathlon got outsourced to Slovakia.

The games can potentially be spread across multiple counties in the North Country such as Essex, Franklin, Clinton, St. Lawrence and Warren. Augustin said this isn't a problem, but this idea is not final.

"This concept still is not confirmed," Augustin said. "There are some proposals; there are some changes we would like to express today to the organizing committee. The overall final concept will be presented in March."

He continued. "What we have in our rules, it can not be more than one hour of travel."

That doesn't mean a venue has to be within one hour of Lake Placid. It just means the athletes can't travel more than an hour from their lodgings to an event.

The FISU team will evaluate Plattsburgh International Airport as they leave from there today. They will submit a full report to the their executive committee soon.

One of the main requirements of a host city is to assemble an independent group in charge of organizing the games. James McKenna, CEO and president of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism said local organizers already started getting the paperwork together for this new group.

"It's not going to be part of ROOST," he said. "It's not going to be a part of ORDA [the state Olympic Regional Development Authority]. It would be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization."

The Global Sports Committee will deliver its final presentation to FISU March 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Wikipedia, though it's an easily manipulated website, already has Lake Placid listed as the site of the 2023 Winter World University Games.

"We hope to make that accurate come March 3," McKenna said with a chuckle.



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