Officials expand Empire State Winter Games for 2012

The organizing committee behind the Empire State Winter Games is expanding the event for 2012 and will hold the games earlier than in past years.

Officials announced this week that the 2012 Empire State Winter Games have been scheduled for Feb. 2 through Feb. 5, several weeks earlier than this year.

Additionally, the event has been extended by one day, allowing for additional sporting events and a new educational component for student athletes.

That's according to Kimberly Rielly, spokeswoman for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism in Lake Placid.

Rielly notes that the revised version of the games is modeled after the Youth Olympic Winter Games and will again include a torch run and opening ceremonies, as well as a Festival of the Games.

The state discontinued the games late last fall, but a regional consortium of municipalities, tourist organizations, not-for-profits, and private enterprises teamed up to save the games.

That collective group includes the villages of Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, the towns of Harrietstown, North Elba, St. Armand and Wilmington, Essex County, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, and the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This year's event was hailed as a success by both athletes and organizers.

It cost about $100,000 to host the games, according to ROOST President and CEO Jim McKenna. That money was raised by both private and public entities.

Lake Placid Village Mayor Craig Randall says the state also prepaid for medals and uniforms. That won't be the case next year, he says.

"This year we are planning a bigger event for the athletes, and we're starting from scratch and will incur larger costs, so we are launching a proactive fundraising effort now to secure sponsors," Randall said.

McKenna says officials are looking to partner up with bigger corporations in order to sponsor the games.

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