From ESG to Sochi: three paralympians set to head for Russia

— Three members of Team USA going to the Paralympic Games at Sochi, Russia in March, competed in the 34th Empire State Winter Games presented by Hannaford Supermarkets last weekend. More than 1,400 athletes were registered and took part in the ESWG events held over four days.

Paralympians Augusto “Goose” Perez, Omar Bermejo and Bryan Price were among the athletes who participated in the adaptive events that were part of the annual ESWG sports festival staged in the Tri-Lakes region. Adaptive Alpine was held Saturday, Feb. 7 and a country skiing sprint was one of the activities at the Sports Fest that evening. An adaptive biathlon took place Sunday, Feb 8 at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg.

The adaptive cross country competition took place at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval in Lake Placid, where Eric Heiden won five Olympic gold medals in 1980. ESWG Committee member, Jeff Erenstone, proprietor of Mountain Orthotics and Prosthetics in Lake Placid and a cross country officianado, laid out a 300-meter course featuring a banked turn right on the center island of the oval. Spectators watched able-bodied men’s and women’s sprints, and a spectacular adaptive race featuring five sits skiers and one stand-up athlete. The race was followed by an awards ceremony and a sled hockey demonstration match on the oval.

“This showcase event in the center of Lake Placid with a live audience is the culmination of three years of effort, and the cooperation of both ORDA and the Empire State Winter Games organizing committee,” Erenstone said. “Adaptive sports have arrived in Lake Placid for all to see, feel and enjoy.”

Jay Rand and his race organizers at New York Ski Educational Foundation and Don Dew of Whiteface Adaptive Snowsports School set two adaptive slalom courses at Whiteface Mountain Saturday for the Alpine events. The morning race on the Mixing Bowl trail featured a field of five assisted adaptive athletes with family and friends and very special awards ceremony.

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