Aug 04, 2022 —
Every two years, some of the best college athletes from around the globe compete in the FISU World University Games. The winter games have been held in Russia, Italy, and Spain and this winter they’re coming to the North Country.
The games are expected to bring 2,500 college athletes from 50 nations to compete in Lake Placid as well as at venues in Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Canton, Potsdam and North Creek.
Over 11 days in mid-January, there are 86 competitions scheduled for 12 winter sports, including skiing, speedskating, hockey and curling.
To prepare for those games and attract other events, New York State has invested more than $400 million to upgrade Olympic facilities in the area.
Governor Kathy Hochul was at one of those facilities last week, the Mt. Van Hoevenberg sports complex, with a few announcements about the games.
“We’ve come to an agreement with ESPN to broadcast the games,” Hochul said, to a round of applause. “This is going to be a massive, massive platform to showcase the talent of these athletes all over, so I can’ t wait for that to be happening, but also one more thing that’s important – what do the medals look like? We get to design them as a host.”
The medals have an angular shape to them, a modern feel with a North Country touch. In the center of each medal is a recycled piece of glass from Potsdam.
Faculty and students at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University helped develop the medals and feature the work of Sidekick Collective, a Glens Falls-based graphic design company.
“Every graphic designer’s dream is to work on some sort of sporting event that has the scope and scale that this does,” said Will Fowler, the creative director at Sidekick Collective, “and the pièce de résistance is the medal design.”
Fowler and others involved in the medal design spoke in a recent promotional video for the games.
“We created something that feels like a chunk of ice and it’s very angular,” said Fowler. “It almost, from a profile, looks like a mountain ridgeline as well.”
The medals have been unveiled, the schedule set, but there are still some big hurdles ahead, maybe the biggest being housing.
There are a few apartment complexes in the works that will add hundreds of units to the housing stock in Lake Placid, but first, they’ll be used by athletes and coaches during the games.
Meanwhile, workers have already started moving to the area and some have been posting on housing Facebook groups saying they’re struggling to find a place to live.
“We have to keep building,” said Hochul after the recent event in Lake Placid. “I’m not stopping until we address the need, it’s something that I’ve heard about for many years, that it’s very expensive to live here. We have to have affordable workforce housing available so those investments are underground as we speak.”
Hochul secured $25 billion for affordable housing in this year’s budget, an investment that’s part of the state’s five-year plan. But folks have been struggling for years to find long-term affordable housing in the Lake Placid area.
Many blame short-term rentals for the crisis. Lake Placid is in the midst of a moratorium on new STRs while the village considers additional regulations.
Asked about the issue last week, Hochul said there needs to be a balance between long-term, affordable housing and places for visitors to stay
“We’re not at full capacity yet, but we will be as people continue to discover the beauty and the charm of the North Country. So it’s something that we talk about. I’m working with the legislature to find the right balance, but right now we do need to continue to make sure that there’s the availability of hotel rooms, lodges, as well as short-term rentals.”
The moratorium on new short-term rentals in Lake Placid is set to expire at the end of September. Organizers of the World University Games say they’ll be ready to host athletes and visitors this winter.