Organizers of the 34th annual Empire State Winter Games (ESWG) will welcome the return of the annual competitions Feb. 6-9, 2014 in New York’s Adirondack region.
This is the fourth year the event has been hosted by a unique and diverse regional coalition, consisting of the Towns of North Elba, Harrietstown, Brighton, Wilmington, and Jay; Villages of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake; the counties of Essex and Franklin; The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) and the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).
For the first time the Town and Village of Tupper Lake will play a role in the ESWG, hosting women’s hockey.
Upwards of 1,000 athletes are expected for the events that will be held at the Olympic venues managed by ORDA in Lake Placid and Wilmington, along with other sites in Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Paul Smiths.
Sponsor commitments to date include Select Sotheby’s International Realty, Stewart’s Shops, Northwoods Inn, Young Explosives and the Lake Placid Business Association. ESWG organizers hope to include additional presenting partners in the coming weeks.
Among additions to the sports menu will be a squirt hockey tournament with youngsters competing for ESWG medals. Also, adaptive participation is expected to increase, including a sled hockey exhibition and demonstration on Saturday as part of the ESWG Fest on Saturdayevening, Feb. 8, the Olympic Speed Skating Oval on Main Street in Lake Placid.
The skating oval, where Eric Heiden won five Olympic gold medals in 1980, will host ESWG competition and fun events for the public, followed by a fireworks display, courtesy of Young Explosives.
“The ESWG will have added excitement attached to them this year as they will coincide with the beginning of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia,” said organizing committee member James McKenna, CEO of ROOST.
“Fans will be able to watch ESWG action and the events in Sochi for a memorable experience in one of the world’s great Olympic communities.”
The ESWG Opening Ceremony, free and open to the public, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6 PM in the Olympic Center’s 1980 Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid. That will occur one night prior to the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
A torch run will begin Wednesday, Feb. 5, and will travel through the North Country to its destination in Lake Placid at the Opening Ceremony.
Athlete registration will be available starting Nov. 25 on the Games website (www.empirestatewintergames.com).
Twenty-one different disciplines will be contested, from alpine skiing to figure skating to women’s ice hockey, including six different adaptive contests, with a higher level of competitive adaptive alpine racers who will ski the challenging Draper’s Drop course at Whiteface Mountain. Adaptive races in biathlon are set for the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg, with adaptive cross country sprints on the Olympic Oval.
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.
“Athletes from New York and around the world have come to rely on ORDA to prepare world class venues for their events,” said ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer. “February will be no different. We will make and groom snow and ice so when these athletes arrive, they will have the best conditions possible for training and racing.”
There is no ESWG fee to spectate, however some of the Olympic venues charge an entry fee. The Family and Friends Olympic Sites Passport includes admission to: Olympic Center (figure skating, hockey), Olympic Jumping Complex (ski jumping) and the Olympic Sports Complex (bobsled, luge). ORDA is providing this special Family and Friends access for just $25.