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ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight And Olympic Regional Development Authority CEO Michael Pratt’s Op-Ed In Journal News: “A Great Moment, A Great Opportunity: World University Games Come To Lake Placid”

Today, the Journal News published commentary by Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight and Olympic Regional Development Authority CEO Michael Pratt on the impact and opportunities the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games will bring to New York State’s North Country. Text of the commentary is available below and can be viewed online here.


January 12, 2023

A Great Moment, A Great Opportunity: World University Games Come To Lake Placid

During the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, as Team USA prepared to play the Soviet Union in the now-legendary Miracle on Ice, American coach Herb Brooks said, "Great moments are born from great opportunity." Now, the eyes of the international sports world will again turn to New York’s North Country for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games — another great opportunity for New York State.

The Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games are an 11-day multi-winter sports event that will bring nearly 1,500 athletes from more than 540 universities and 46 countries to the North Country, plus countless coaches and fans from around the world. The athletes, ages 17 to 25, will participate in 12 winter sports and 86 medal events, with competitions including skiing and snowboarding, curling, figure skating, ice hockey and speed skating. Organized by the International University Sports Federation — FISU, which is known for its world-class sports competitions for college students — the World University Games are the largest global sporting event for student-athletes.

New York State has spent the past five years preparing for this moment. Gov. Kathy Hochul, while serving as Lieutenant Governor, was part of the committee that met with the FISU delegation in early 2018. As a champion for Upstate New York, Hochul helped to encourage the organizers that Lake Placid — a two-time Winter Olympic Games host — and the surrounding region were an ideal destination for the 2023 FISU Games. Lake Placid had previously hosted the 1972 FISU games — and today, New York remains the only state to host the famed event.

Over the last six years, New York has invested more than $550 million in the state's Olympic Regional Development Authority facilities to help maintain the region’s standing as a global winter sport destination fitting for an Olympic-sized event. We made transformative investments to renovate the Lake Placid Olympic Center, revitalized our airports, improved our roads and bridges and grew our regional sports infrastructure to ensure that Lake Placid is well-positioned to host the games.

But the impacts of these investments will also extend far beyond the games. The event will once again put Lake Placid on a global stage, drawing thousands of visitors to the region and inviting millions more to watch the games via ESPN in the United States, TSN in Canada and FISU TV. For many, it will be the first time they'll see the bold and picturesque Adirondack Mountains, vibrant downtown Lake Placid and our world-class Olympic Regional Development Authority ski areas and venues. And these games offer a chance to showcase the New York’s thriving winter tourism industry.

Last winter, the state welcomed 68.5 million visitors, generating more than $16.1 billion in direct visitor spending. Special events like the games that spark additional travel generate even more spending in our restaurants, hotels and businesses, supporting jobs in a hospitality industry still rebuilding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. State-supported ORDA venues are open year-round for events, athlete training and recreation. Once the World University Games have finished, these same facilities will host this winter season the World Cup in Ski Jumping, NCAA Alpine and Cross-Country Skiing Championships, Synchronized Figure Skating World Championships. The Bobsled Skeleton World Championships will follow in February 2025, and IBU Biathlon Cups are planned in February and March 2026.

Under Hochul’s leadership, state’s investments have grown and improved the North Country’s winter sports infrastructure, and the World University Games are just the start. Thanks to the concerted efforts of FISU, the games’ organizing committee, nearly a dozen state agencies, host partners, and volunteers, we are not only bringing the world to Lake Placid; we are once again presenting Lake Placid to the world.

Returning to the words of Coach Brooks, the start of the FISU games is both a great moment and a great opportunity, and we stand ready to welcome athletes and spectators from around the world to take their place in New York’s winning legacy.

Hope Knight is President, CEO and Commissioner of Empire State Development.

Michael Pratt is the President and CEO of the Olympic Regional Development Authority. 


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