Lake Placid venue upgrades ready for World University Games and beyond

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 4:14 PM EST
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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (WCAX) - Lake Placid, home to two Winter Olympics, is getting ready to host what’s being dubbed the college equivalent to the Olympic games. Opening ceremonies for the FISU World University Games are next Thursday, bringing 1,400 athletes from 46 countries to the Olympic Village.

Preparations began in Lake Placid in March 2018 when the North Country was chosen to host the games. Now, nearly five years later, along with hundreds of millions of state-funded improvements, Lake Placid is ready to welcome the world once again.

“We’re really looking forward to getting everybody back here in Lake Placid and showing them all the upgrades we’ve had here at the Olympic Center and all our venues,” said Chadd Cassidy with the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

When Lake Placid was chosen to host the Games, many of the Olympic venues had not had major upgrades since they were built for the 1980 Olympics, so the town and state have put years into bringing them back to world-class status. “The premise behind getting all these great facilities and the upgrades was to continue our usefulness for years to come and drawing people in and give our visitors a really good experience when they come here,” Cassidy said.

Upgrades include a brand-new refrigeration system and a major facelift to the oval in front of the high school where Eric Heiden won five Olympic golds. They will be hosting long-track speed skating competition on that surface. Also, a massive upgrade to the whole Olympic center, which encapsulates the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena and two other ice rinks where competitions will be held.

On the snow side, there’s a completely revamped ski jumping facility and there are brand new facilities at Mt. Van Hoevenberg for cross-country skiing and sliding sports.

And for the Olympic historians, a new Olympic Museum. It’s all with the idea of attracting world-class athletes and international competitions to come. “We hope that we can accommodate all sorts of international competitions, whether it’s the Olympics or any sort of world championship or anything like that. That’s what we’re built for, and I’m really looking forward to not just what we’re going to be doing here in the month of January, but what we can do here for many years to come,” Cassidy said.

FISU World University Games spokesperson Jon Lundin grew up in Lake Placid and says these games will actually bring in more athletes than the 1980 Olympics. He says it’s great to be part of something so big once again. “They will continue to serve as economic catalysts for this area. And they are not only for U.S. or international sports but they are also there for the general public to enjoy as well,” he said.

The opening ceremony of the FISU World University Games are next Thursday.