LAKE PLACID DIET: FISU games an important milestone on weight-loss journey

Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn takes photographs during the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games opening ceremony on Jan. 12 in the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena. (News photo — Lauren Yates)

May 10: 490 lbs.

May 31 (surgery): 460 lbs.

Jan. 24: 389 lbs.

Total lost: 101 lbs.

This is the sight Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn had while taking the Warhorse chairlift at Whiteface Mountain to the Alpine ski racing finish line on Jan. 17 during the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

I knew that covering the first day of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games — Thursday, Jan. 12 — would be a challenge, yet it wasn’t until the last day of the event that I would fully realize my physical potential — and my limitations — after losing 100 pounds since my bariatric surgery seven months earlier.

A year ago, I was still walking with a cane wherever I went — at home, at work, at the grocery store, etc. On Jan. 14, 2022, I visited former town/village Historian beverley Reid’s home on the Wilmington Road for an interview with our intern, Rose Wenzler. Other than that, covering news events for the paper last winter was limited to taking photos from inside or very near my car. I weighed 480 pounds at the time.

On the first day of the games, I planned on covering the torch relay in Lake Placid in the afternoon and the opening ceremony in the evening at the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena.

I worried about parking and whether my legs would be strong enough to do all the walking. Strangely enough, I was a lot stronger than I thought, walking around without a cane.

I took photos of North Country School students and members of the Lake Placid High School cross country running team at the Olympic Jumping Complex before they started the torch relay. Then I drove to Man and Beast at the top of Mill Hill to take photos of the torch runners from grades 5 through 8 and wait for the torch to pass by.

Afterward, I parked at the Main Press Center (beach house) on Parkside Drive and walked over to the Olympic Center. While there, I walked around the arena, having to go up and down the stairway between the 1980 and USA rinks twice, and covered the opening ceremony with Rose in a rinkside box. Then I walked back to the car after the ceremony.

Wow! I couldn’t believe I was able to do all that without a cane. I had to pinch myself. I’ve come so far since last year.

Several days passed before my next FISU games adventure. On Tuesday morning, Jan. 17, I parked at the American Legion and walked to the Olympic Speedskating Oval to cover the women’s speedskating event with my publisher and the newspaper’s owner. That included climbing sets of stairs without hand railings, then walking back to my car.

The newspaper owner wanted to see an Alpine skiing event at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, so we headed there — not knowing exactly what kind of physical activities I would have to endure. I was already tired from covering the speedskating. Could I actually do this?

I looked at my Whiteface challenge as an adventure. I parked in a handicapped section, walked to the lodge, up the stairs to the second story, and found out that in order to cover the Alpine event at the finish line, I’d have to take the Warhorse chairlift, a quad named after Olympic Alpine ski medalist Andrew Weibrecht, of Lake Placid. I hadn’t been on a chairlift since I was a teenager in the mid-1980s skiing at Titus Mountain in Malone. I certainly hadn’t ridden one weighing 390 pounds. And, in order to get to the chairlift from the lodge, I’d have to walk on snow, dodging skiers finishing their runs, wearing sneakers — with all that walking, boots would have weighed too much, and I wasn’t planning on walking in the middle of a ski slope that day.

It was certainly an Adirondack adventure, and I was up for the challenge.

Again, I made it just fine. I couldn’t stand too much at the finish line, and I had to find some snowy stairs to sit on for about 15 minutes. Otherwise, my legs held out.

After a day’s rest, I covered women’s curling at the Saranac Lake Civic Center on Thursday, Jan. 19. It did require some walking, and some stairs, but not nearly as much as on Tuesday. I did just fine.

By then, I was physically beat. I didn’t think I’d have any more strength to cover events for the rest of the week. I wasn’t planning on covering the men’s ice hockey gold-medal game and closing ceremony at the 1980 Rink on Sunday evening, but the day before, I felt like I had enough energy to do it. Come Sunday morning, however, my legs weren’t cooperating. The strength — which was probably more in my mind than anything — was gone. I had to cancel my trip to Lake Placid and cover the event from home, watching ESPN+ from my couch instead.

The FISU games were an important physical test along my weight-loss journey, especially for a 53-year-old who is learning how to walk again after bariatric surgery.

I learned that I can do a lot more than I could a year ago.

Yet there were things I wanted to do but couldn’t. For example, I would have loved to walk up and down Main Street to experience the festival, but I knew I didn’t have the energy or the stamina.

Therefore, I also learned that I have a long way to go — to gain more strength and endurance — before I can cover prolonged news and sports events like our reporters half my age can do — events such as the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid.

Starting at $1.44/week.

Subscribe Today