University Games will house athletes in Lake Placid, Canton, Potsdam

Transportation system for athletes is also being planned

LAKE PLACID — Planning for the arrival of the 2023 Winter World University Games continues.

In a virtual town hall hosted live from the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena on Monday, Sept. 21, officials involved with the planning of the games promoted the upcoming event and answered questions from residents and reporters about some of the logistics surrounding it, like where athletes will stay while they’re here to compete and how they’ll be transported from place to place.

There are expected to be three athlete villages to house the roughly 2,500 participants expected at the games, including athletes, coaches and support staff, according to Ashley Walden, director of the Adirondack North Country Sports Council and a retired luge Olympian.

Lake Placid may host one of those at the former W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center on Old Barn Road, where local developer Joseph Barile has proposed building a new housing complex. That complex is still in the planning and permitting phase. There will also be athlete villages at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, according to Walden. Athletes may also be housed in hotels in North Creek, home of the Gore Mountain Ski Resort.

“We want to leave the hotels open,” Walden said. “We are hoping that this will be a great spectator event and want to make sure that there’s plenty of lodging and accommodations available for spectators to be able to attend.”

There will be a dedicated transportation network specifically for athletes, according to Walden.

“Transportation will be one of the biggest challenges,” she said. “We are working right now with New York state agencies, including the Department of Transportation and local authorities, to make sure we’re building a framework that will work not only for athletes, but spectators.

“We are obviously very concerned in making sure members of the community can still move around.”

Walden said organizers are also looking at how they might be able to incorporate electric vehicles into the transportation network.

Throughout the town hall, officials touted the expected economic impact the games will have on towns throughout the region that are hosting events. The town hall began with a promotional video about the games featuring FISU President Oleg Matystin, New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority CEO Michael Pratt, and state and local elected officials.

“I hope that the World University Games can provide a measure of hope, a reason to look ahead in the months and years to come,” Matystin said.

Despite the pandemic, planning for the games continues on schedule, according to Walden.

“Outside of a few inconveniences, it has not impacted the timeline of the games,” she said.

More details on the logistics surrounding the games are expected to come as the planning progresses. Walden said they have a plan to release specific information to “minimize inconvenience to residents.”

The programs at the Winter World University Games typically include nine “compulsory sports,” and up to three optional sports, according to the 2023 Winter World University Games website. The compulsory sports include alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle, ice hockey, short-track speedskating and snowboarding.

Clarkson University, SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton will host the preliminary rounds of men’s and women’s hockey, according to Walden. There will also be a number of sporting events hosted at ORDA-managed sports venues in Lake Placid, Wilmington and North Creek.

The state of New York has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into winter sports venues managed by ORDA throughout the last few years to modernize the venues in preparation for the games.