Communities unite to save winter games

"Lake Placid is all about opportunities so we decided to pick up the ball and run with it," Politi said. "The state has said it can't do it. But Lake Placid is saying we can do it. We have the community spirit, the resourcefulness - and we have great partnerships."

And while the loss of the games would have hurt the community economically, Politi said it's not just about money.

"It's more than financial," he said. "We need to be thinking about young athletes. Athletes from across the state look forward to coming here and feeling the magic and the spirit of this Olympic place. It's a wonderful experience."

Jim McKenna, president and CEO for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau, called the decision to continue the games a no-brainer.

"There's a lot of expertise here," he said. "We're going to show the state that we can do this, and do it in a way that's better than the past. This has the ability to lead to better things in the future."

Politi said that unlike the summer games - which have encountered significantly more financial hardship over the years - the winter games cost relatively little. He said the infrastructure and venues are already in place, and the community is experienced in hosting events of this nature.

McKenna said the next step is to secure the necessary funding. That, he said, could be accomplished through private sponsorship.

"We have to show value and put together a package for potential sponsors," he said. "Partnerships is what it's about."

ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer noted that the venues are already set and that staff is ready to pull off what he described as an exceptional Empire State Winter Games.

"We've been working with Albany to follow the lead of control," he said. "We had already set out budgets, and the athletes were going to be coming anyway. We're going to work with the community, that's who will spearhead this. They'll just be using our facilities."

State Sen. Elizabeth Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward both said the state should have explored public-private sponsorships before deciding to cancel the games. In separate statements released Thursday, the two North Country lawmakers hailed the community effort to save the games.

Requests for comment from budget officials in Albany were unsuccessful Thursday.

McKenna said he hasn't heard whether the state is endorsing the plan.

The Empire State Winter Games features an array of Olympic-style competitions, including bobsled, biathlon, Nordic combined, and alpine skiing. Past games have featured Olympic and World Cup champions like Billy Demong and Andrew Weibrecht.

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