Former Empire State Winter Games (ESWG) competitor, current member of the United States Luge Team, and participant at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, will deliver the keynote address at the Opening Ceremony of the 2013 ESWG. Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., a graduate of the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, will speak to the 1,000 athletes expected to gather for the annual event that will be held in the Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Wilmington and Paul Smiths region. The events encompass four townships. We asked James McKenna one fo the lead organizers on the Empire State Winter Games Committee to speak with us about the games, tourism and other topics affecting the region;
The Opening Ceremony of the ESWG will take place on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 6 PM in the Olympic Center’s Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid. The 24 year old Mazdzer, who was 13th in singles at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, recently set a personal best 12th place World Cup result. He was recently named to the 2013 World Championship roster for USA Luge. The competitions will be held Feb. 1-2 at Whistler, B.C., Canada, site of the 2010 Olympic competitions. Mazdzer is also a four-time Norton National Luge Champion. He has been the national team’s top men’s singles athlete over the past two seasons. The ESWG events, now in their third year under the banner of a unique and diverse regional coalition, will be held Feb. 7-10, 2013. The Empire State Winter Games (ESWG) has also partnered with the Empire State Sports Foundation, a Rochester-based organization that has resuscitated the Summer Games, which will be held July 24-28, 2013 in Rochester.
Prior to the Opening Ceremony, a torch run through the North Country will begin Wednesday, Feb. 6, and conclude Feb. 7 at the Olympic Center.
An awards celebration and fireworks display will be held on Saturday night, Feb. 9, at 7 PM in Mid’s Park on Main Street in Lake Placid, near the Palace Theater.
Most of the events will be held on the venues of the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) in Lake Placid and Wilmington. Competition sites are also set for Dewey Mountain in Saranac Lake and the Visitors Interpretive Center at Paul Smith’s College.
Nineteen different disciplines will be contested, from alpine skiing to figure skating to women’s ice hockey, including a number of adaptive contests.
The alpine skiing competitions will include athletes from the New York State Ski Racing Association. In recent years, organizers have also included more “new school” events with skiercross, boardercross and slopestyle competitions, most coming under the banner of the United States of America Snowboard Association.
Adaptive races are slated for alpine skiing, biathlon, boardercross and cross country skiing.
In addition, the ESWG Organizing Committee, ORDA and USA Luge will partner to host World Cup luge racing Feb. 8-9 at the Olympic Sports Complex, on Rt. 73. Awards ceremonies for this event will be held in conjunction with some ESWG activities, including Mid’s Park on Saturday night. ESWG youth division luge racing will be held between World Cup events.
For more information on the 33rd edition of this winter sports festival, please log on to www.empirestatewintergames.com.