2023 FISU games were ‘pretty cool’

Delaney Strouse (center) of the USA throws a stone as teammates Sydney Mullaney (left) and Rebecca Rodgers (right) sweep during the bronze medal match against Great Britain at the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games on Jan. 20 in the Saranac Lake Civis Center. (Photo by Kayla Breen/FISU Games)

Now that our reporters and editors have experienced their first FISU Winter World University Games, we’re still trying to process the impacts of the event on the region’s residents, visitors and communities.

We’re still talking to people about their experiences and what they think these games will do for themselves, their families, friends, neighbors and businesses. With the awarding of the games came promises of economic development, housing and improved sports venues to last generations. Did those materialize?

When we stopped in the middle of reporting at these venues — in Lake Placid, Wilmington, Saranac Lake, North Creek, Canton and Potsdam — we couldn’t help but pause, gawk and soak in the moment. Some would say out loud, “This is pretty cool.” Many would be inspired by the people they met and the athletic feats they witnessed.

Most walked away tired but with a feeling of accomplishment — glad it’s over, yet thankful we were able to experience the games. The FISU Winter World University Games don’t come to the United States very often; they’ve only been here twice, in 1972 and 2023, both in Lake Placid.

It was an honor to host these games, and we’re impressed by the excellent job performed by the games organizing committee at the Adirondack Sports Council, FISU officials, venue employees, the hundreds of volunteers, and the winter sports national governing bodies that sent teams here.

We were told “this is big” — and it was. Bigger than we realize.

Many athletes, officials, temporary workers (such as security teams and police officers), family members and spectators had never been to Lake Placid before these games, and there’s a good chance many will be back. Many others from afar may now visit because they watched the events on ESPN+ or FISU TV.

The PR value of these games is priceless. Lake Placid and the Adirondack Park were seen around the world for 11 days. That’s huge. The exposure is bound to have an impact on tourism for years.

Above all, the Adirondack North Country region once again showed the world that it can successfully host major international sporting events, and do it with style. Congrats, everyone.

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