Also on stage were two featured speakers, actor James Tolkan and Youth Olympic Games athlete and former ESWG bobsledder Codie Bascue, of Whitehall.
Tolkan, a long-time Lake Placid resident who played starring roles in the cinematic successes Top Gun and Back to the Future, used a familiar, yet comical line to inspire the athletes gathered in front of the stage.
“Whatever you do, don’t be a slacker,” he said as Mr. Strickland, a reference to his famous scene as a school principal with Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.
Meanwhile, Bascue used a different approach with the youngsters before him. “At times in your sporting career, you will not always do as good as you had hoped,” he stated. “But one thing that I have learned through all of this is that you can’t lose hope and you can’t give up on yourself no matter how difficult it is.”
The ESWG officially began with the lighting of the cauldron. After being carried for two days through the Adirondack region, Elisa Lynch, an adaptive athlete in alpine skiing, brought the torch into the arena. Lynch handed the burning symbol to 17 year old luge racer, ESWG competitor and Youth Olympic Games participant Raychel Germaine.
The Roswell, Ga. resident climbed the steps and lit the cauldron as Randy Douglas, chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors chairman proclaimed, “Let the Games Begin.”
Follow the action as results will be posted at www.empirestatewintergames.com.