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Friendship and sport move mountains at the International Children’s Winter Games in Placid

January 11, 2019
Editorial , Lake Placid News

Shortly after the girls began figure skating practice Monday, Jan. 7, at the Olympic Center's 1932 Rink - Jack Shea Arena for the 2019 International Children's Winter Games, the sound man cued up the first song for an athlete: a cover of John Lennon's 1971 hit "Imagine" by Avril Lavigne.

The chorus sums up the feeling of the games as many of these young athletes - 12 to 15 years old -?were meeting and competing against their peers from other countries for the first time.

You may say I'm a dreamer

Article Photos

Team Lake Placid begins marching Monday, Jan. 7, during the International Children’s Winter Games opening ceremony in the Olympic Center’s 1980 Rink.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

But I'm not the only one

I hope some day you'll join us

And the world will be as one.

Held every three years, the winter games came to the U.S. for the first time this past week in Lake Placid, Jan. 6-11. In 2016, Lake Placid sent 18 athletes to Innsbruck, Austria. The summer games are held every year. In 2018, they were held in Jerusalem, Israel, and this year they will be in Ufa, Russia.

Since 1991, the International Children's Games have been an International Olympic Committee-sanctioned event. In June 1968, Metod Klemenc organized the first ICG in his hometown of Celje, Slovenia. He is known as the spiritual father of the ICG.

"My childhood suffered from the second World War," Klemenc once said. "It destroyed my family. Since I - within my possibilities - wanted to create a better world based on friendship, sport seemed to be one of the best means to bring together young people from different countries. Therefore, you need will power and friends who are enthusiastic about sport, and who are willing to give up their spare time."

The 2019 ICWG theme was "Friendship and Sport Move Mountains," reinforcing the fact that the games are not just about sport or winning. ICG officials say the games "should always contribute to learning about foreign cultures and ways of life and to unite young people from all over the world in a spirit of true sportsmanship and friendship."

Targeting 12- to 15-year-olds is a perfect way to foster peaceful sporting competitions around the world. Teach them - and give them these kinds of eye-opening and life-changing experiences - when they are young, and there's hope for a more peaceful world when it comes to political conflicts that are bound to arise. Whether they move on to athletic competition in college or on the Olympic level is irrelevant. What's important is the cultural exchange that takes place and - hopefully - the lifelong friendships that begin.

Since sending athletes to the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, France in 1924, Lake Placid has been part of the Olympic movement. It continues to host international sporting events -?such as the Winter Universiade in 2023 - and train the Winter Olympians of tomorrow. As part of this effort, we hope Lake Placid will send teams to the International Children's Winter Games in the future and continue its leadership role in the world of sport.

 
 

 

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