Jan. 14—LAKE PLACID — The second day of international hockey games in Canton and Potsdam was light Thursday evening, giving the spotlight over to the opening ceremonies of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games at the rink where the Miracle on Ice occurred in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
New York Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul officially opened the games welcoming 1,443 collegiate athletes from more than 540 universities and 46 nations gathered to celebrate the biennial winter sports event. The ceremony included greetings from the Oneida Indian Nation and Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, elegant on-ice performances, athletes' and officials' oaths, and the lighting of a one-of-a-kind flameless cauldron.
The games will feature competition in 12 winter sports and 85 events in venues throughout the north country region, including Lake Placid, Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Potsdam, Canton and North Creek.
Potsdam and Canton will host the men's and women's hockey tournament preliminary rounds. The semifinals and finals will be played in Lake Placid.
The village of Lake Placid was selected by FISU in March 2018 to be the host location this year.
The selection adds to a sports history that includes two Winter Olympics, the 1972 FISU World University Games, the 2000 Goodwill Games and numerous World Cup and World Championship events.
"We hope that these games fill you with the joy of sport and competition as you prepare to assume your role as the next generation of global leaders. You have the passion, commitment and skills to elevate Save Winter to the forefront of global climate initiatives," said James B. McKenna, chairman of the Adirondack Sports Council and the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games' Organizing Committee.
The 2021 games, scheduled for Lucerne, Switzerland, were canceled due to the global pandemic.
"After the harsh years of the global pandemic, we finally meet again here in Lake Placid. The world's young people suffered hard on behalf of the greater good and the global population. To see so many of them gathered here today is a particularly emotional moment, which should make these World University Games a truly festive occasion, especially after the cancellation of Lucerne 2021. Lake Placid is a special city that has created both legends and a legacy that endures. Legacy is a gift that also bears the weight of responsibility. It's why I am proud that Lake Placid will play host to conferences and initiatives examining the relationship between winter sports and climate change," said FISU acting president Leonz Eder.
"After more than $550 million in state-supported renovations and investments in the north country to prepare for the games, New York is ready to welcome athletes and spectators from all over the world to our state," Gov. Hochul said.
The two-hour opening ceremony included performances by Joffrey Ballet School students, the American Ice Theatre, and professional skater Angela Kim and aerialist Pawel Walczewski.
The athletes' oath was led by figure skater Ting Cui, a Maryland native and student at Vermont's Middlebury College, and the officials' oath was performed by Tim Burke, a four-time Olympic biathlete who calls Lake Placid home.
Assemblyman Scott A. Gray, R-Watertown, Canton Mayor Michael E. Dalton and Canton Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley attended the opening ceremonies.
"The Adirondack region is uniquely equipped and well prepared to host these games, which will bring thousands of college athletes from more than 50 countries and 600 universities to our area," Mr. Gray said. "I look forward to watching the competition that will feature several winter sports, including the hockey portion which will be hosted in the River District on the SUNY Canton and Potsdam campuses. May the games begin!"
"Attending the opening ceremonies of the FISU World Games was unbelievably heartwarming," Ms. Ashley said. "We were invited to a reception prior to the opening and met wonderful folks. For example: two coaches from Australia were so complimentary about the event, the people and the region."
The opening ceremony was "magical," Ms. Ashley said. it emulated what the north country is about.
"We are welcoming, we care about others and accept one another with open arms," she said. "I am proud that Canton is one of the host communities and simply amazed at the level of organization and professionalism of the FISU. In one word — wow."
Mayor Dalton said the games made him feel hopeful.
"It was my pleasure to represent Canton, one of the host communities, at the opening ceremonies," Mayor Dalton said. "Sporting events like this always seem to build bridges and these games are no exception. The support shown by all the athletes for each country as they were introduced was special and made me think that anything is possible. The Canton community is part of something special as the host of preliminary rounds of hockey at SUNY Canton. I hope our community takes the opportunity to support these athletes from all over the world."
The 2023 FISU World University Games will conclude on the evening of Jan. 22 with a closing ceremony and the extinguishing of the cauldron, after the men's gold medal ice hockey game in the Herb Brooks Arena.
For more information about the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games or to purchase tickets, visit www.lakeplacid2023.com.