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Disabled athletes to compete in Empire State Games

Patrick Standen, left, and David Leach demonstrate the adaptive skiing equipment which will be used in the upcoming Empire State Games by adaptive athletes.

Patrick Standen, left, and David Leach demonstrate the adaptive skiing equipment which will be used in the upcoming Empire State Games by adaptive athletes. Photo by Shawn Ryan.

— “The payback is enjoying the outdoors, and being with some really great people,” said Leach. When you get disabled, you can get down and out. This brings you back up.”

Leach lost his lower leg in a motorcycle accident. As he skis around the Nordic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hovenburg, you only know he’s an adaptive athlete when he pulls up his right pant leg to show his specially made prosthetic.

The Empire State Games has embraced adaptive athletes, with competitions running in conjunction with the upcoming games. The US Paralympics National Nordic/Biathlon Ski Team will also be running a Paralympic Development Ski Camp at the Olympic Training Center and the Olympic Sports Complex. Athletes will stay in the Olympic Training Center and will train and compete at Sport Complex venues. 

According to Jeff Erenstone, who operates Mountain Orthotics and Prosthetics in Lake Placid and Plattsburgh, some of the adaptive equipment can take months to build, and can cost between $2,000 and $5,000. There are some production sit-ski chairs available, but the higher level athletes prefer to have one custom made.

Erenstone produces adaptive equipment for various athletes in both summer and winter sports and activities.

The Empire State Games will run from Feb. 6 – 9, at the Olympic Sports Venues in Lake Placid. A full schedule of events and venues can be found at empirestatewintergames.com/

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