First day of FISU games was a busy one for this reporter

Lake Placid News intern Rose Wenzler poses with U.S. Olympic luge silver medalist Chris Mazdzer, a Saranac Lake native, on Thursday, Jan. 12 in the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena before the opening ceremony of the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

As I write this column during the first weekend of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games, the event is off to a really great start.

My first day on Thursday, Jan. 12, was really action-packed. As a school, Lake Placid got to be part of the torch relay, and I also attended the opening ceremonies later that night.

For the torch relay, I got selected to be the female representative for seventh grade. The entire middle school, and fifth grade, each had two representatives, a boy and a girl from each grade. All of the students followed behind us. The grade representatives and the high school cross country team received official FISU uniforms to wear.

The torch relay in Lake Placid started at the Olympic Jumping Complex. The torch was carried into town by the Lake Placid High School cross country team and students from North Country School.

The cross country team met up with us at the top of Mill Hill, at Man and Beast. When they ran past us, turning left onto Main Street, we jumped right in! It was really enjoyable running with the team.

Cross-country skiers compete in the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games on Friday morning, Jan. 13, at Mount Van Hoevenberg. (News photo — Rose Wenzler)

Every few minutes, members of the group would pass around the torch to someone different. Then the person with the torch would move to the front of the pack. The torch was actually really heavy and really cold.

Our section of the relay stopped at the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort. When we had finished the relay, we got to have hot chocolate at Generations restaurant outside. Then we had to go back to school. I thought the whole experience was really awesome and would totally do it again if I was given the choice.

In the evening, the opening ceremonies took place at the Herb Brooks Arena. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, Gov. Kathy Hochul declared the “Games officially begin.”

Members of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe opened the evening with words and song using their native language.

The athlete parade was the main part of the event. Teams paraded around the rink with dancers welcoming them. It was awesome to see all the uniforms and athletes from countries all around the world.

Lake Placid News intern Rose Wenzler poses with her mom, Annie, on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, while covering the FISU cross-country ski races at Mount Van Hoevenberg. (News photo — Parker O’Brien)

A skating show and acrobats entertained the athletes. They were so talented. My favorite part was when the woman acrobat that hung on a ring high above the rink inside the arena.

I was really excited for the rest of the games and tried to see as many events as possible, even catching some from my couch on ESPN.

I really enjoyed my entire World University Games experience, and it caught me wondering, will the FISU games come back, and be hosted by Lake Placid ever again? I don’t know. But it does show how well Lake Placid can host such special events.

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