PAUL SMITHS, N.Y (WCAX) New York Olympic sites are already getting ready for the 2023 World University Winter Games coming to the region, and Paul Smiths College sees the event as an opportunity to connect athletes and education.
"This is really the fruition of a five-year dream for USA Nordic and myself," said Billy Demong, an Olympic gold medalist and Paul Smiths native.
Demong has traveled the world for Nordic combined skiing but there was one stage he was never able to shine on. "Unfortunately did not ever finish my collegiate career because it was to difficult back in my era," he said.
Demong says it's a problem for many athletes. The demands of year-round training and international competition don't make it easy to pursue a degree.
Now, Paul Smith's College hopes to change that. The college's Visitor Interpretive Center is 25 miles of trails for the school and the public to use. It will now be the home of the East Coast Training Center for USA Nordic, the national governing body for ski jumping and Nordic combined.
"Paul Smiths is committed to investing in this. We think it's the right thing for the college and it's the right thing to do for the region," said Cathy Dove, the college's president.
"There is definitely work to be done but it's a lot closer than you might think," Demong said.
The school hopes to bring in elite athletes from all over to come train on the Olympic ski jumps and the schools trails in between classes that will be held at the interpretive center. And academics will be tailored to work with athletics.
"Programmatic ways that we can supplement and reflect that these athletes will certainly have needs. For example, if they have competitions we need to be flexible with their schedules," Dove said.
Improvements to the facilities are already beginning to help athletes go for gold at the 2023 World University Games. "Bring the best team possible to the World University Games in 2023 here in Lake Placid to win these home games," Demong said.
The college says they want to have the training center up and running for some athletes this winter season.