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This Winter Games effort has erased the boundaries between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and Wilmington … we’re all coming together.

"Local" Empire State games ready to go

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The Empire State Winter Games are ready to roll for 2012. The games now rely on local and regional support. Lake Placid tourism head Jim McKenna says as the finances changed, so did the games, for the better. Close to 1,200 athletes are expected to participate this year. McKenna is president of the regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau. Chris Morris has our story.

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Chris Morris
Tri-Lakes Correspondent

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The big difference this year is that the Games won’t have any funding from the state. Parts of the 2011 event – uniforms and medals, for example – had already been paid for by the time the state backed out.

McKenna says the 2012 Games will be completely funded through a public-private partnership that includes local governments and businesses.

“We’ve continued to build on the coalition that successfully put the Games together last year,” McKenna said. “And if we look around the table, the Games not only serves a purpose for the athletes, but it also serves a purpose for making us all understand in the region that we work together better as a unit rather than independent towns or villages or counties.”

Last year’s event cost about $100,000. McKenna says he expects the coalition to pull together about $90,000 this year. Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau says this new coalition can serve as a model, as communities across the state try to become more self reliant.

“Like no other group or no other happening that I can recall, this Winter Games effort has erased the boundaries between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and Wilmington . . . we’re all coming together on this team, we’re making great things happen and I’m just looking forward to a lot of fun and a lot of exposure for the Adirondacks this coming February,” he said.

Several new sponsors have signed up this year and the Games will add new events like Nordic combined and adaptive biathlon. They’ll also have some more extreme-style events, like ski- and snowboard-cross.

Jim Goff is program director for the state Olympic Regional Development Authority. He says the addition of adaptive biathlon will make the Games more accessible to people with disabilities. “That will be the third adaptive program that will be part of the Empire State (Winter) Games, joining adaptive cross-country skiing that became a member of the Empire State (Winter) Games last year, and adaptive alpine that’s been part of the program ongoing,” Goff said. “We’re really excited to announce that those two sports will be expanding our field, expanding the wealth of athletes that will be here.”

Events will be spread across the Olympic region. In Saranac Lake, the Games will showcase the Dewey Mountain Recreation Center and the Mount Pisgah Ski Center. Competitions are also scheduled to take place at Mount Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, Whiteface Mountain Ski Center and the Olympic Center. The Games are scheduled for February 1 to February 5, 2012.

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