Eight furry finalists for World University Games mascot

Believer Beaver, designed by Scott Rohe of Saranac Lake

Eight finalists in the 2023 Winter World University Games mascot design contest were revealed Friday.

Included in the lineup is one entry from the Tri-Lakes area: Believer Beaver by Saranac Lake artist Scott Rohe. Locals may remember Rohe for his Winter Carnival-inspired paintings and his art depicting downtown Saranac Lake.

Rohe’s Believer Beaver is a wide-eyed, buck-toothed beaver decked out in winter gear. It is up against a rabbit named Adi, by Slate Hill resident Tareek Lewis; a moose named Adirondack Mac by Farmington resident Kristina Ingerowski; Bo the Black Bear by Cazenovia resident Caitlin Clonan; Flurry, a blue bear, by Webster resident Rebecca Drexler; Ghost the Gray Wolf by Whitesboro resident Logan Conte; Pine, a bobcat, by Lakewood resident Kristina Clark; and Rocky Marten by Canastota resident Melanie Chapman.

The finalists were chosen from more than 100 entries submitted by residents around the state. A panel will decide which candidate will win based on creativity, “alignment with messaging” of the games, production feasibility and the results of a public vote that happened last month. In the event of a tie, whichever mascot aligns better with the messaging of the games will win, according to the contest rules.

The winner of the mascot design contest will receive a $5,000 cash prize “that can be used to attend the Lake Placid 2023 World University Games,” according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. The winner is expected to be announced around May 21.

Adirondack Mac, designed by Farmington’s Kristina Ingerowski

The judging panel includes state Olympic Regional Development Authority Board of Directors Chairperson Kelly Cummings, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO and Adirondack North Country Sports Council Chair James McKenna, Olympian and 2023 World University Games Organizing Committee Chief Operating Officer Ashley Walden, two-time Olympic medalist and Lake Placid native Andrew Weibrecht, Empire State Development Acting Commissioner Eric Gertler, SUNY Chancellor James Malatras, CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos and Faith West-Gorman, Empire State Development senior director of events.

The Winter World University Games, also known as the Winter Universiade, will come to Lake Placid for the second time on Jan. 12 to 22, 2023. The first time was in 1972.

The 11-day sporting event will include competitions in downhill, freestyle and cross-country skiing, biathlon, speedskating, curling, figure skating, hockey, short-track speedskating and snowboarding. It is expected to bring at least 2,500 student-athletes to the area, plus spectators, coaches and support staff.

There are expected to be three athlete villages to house the student-athletes. One of those would be in Lake Placid. Local developer Joseph Barile plans to build housing at the former W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center on Old Barn Road. His Peaks at Lake Placid housing development would be used first as athlete housing during the games, then as long-term housing for residents afterward. The other athlete villages would be at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam. Athletes may also be housed at hotels in North Creek.

In preparation for the games, the state has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into upgrading winter sports venues managed by ORDA in Lake Placid, Wilmington and North Creek. Some of those projects are ongoing, such as the renovation of the Olympic Center rink complex in downtown Lake Placid.

Bo the Black Bear, designed by Caitlin Clonan of Cazenovia

An infrastructure and streetscape overhaul on Lake Placid’s Main Street — being undertaken by the village of Lake Placid, and expected to cost about $10 million — is also ongoing. Officials hope to have the bulk of the work completed by the games.

Canastota resident Melanie Chapman’s design for Rocky Marten

Ghost the Gray Wolf, designed by Logan Conte of Whitesboro

Pine the bobcat, designed by Kristina Clark of Lakewood

Adi the snowshoe hare, designed by Tareek Lewis of Slate Hill

Flurry the bear, designed by Rebecca Drexler of Webster