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Cuomo energizes state lawmakers at 2014 Adirondack Winter Challenge

Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the North Country for the Adirondack Challenge March 9.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the North Country for the Adirondack Challenge March 9. Photo by Pete DeMola.

— Under a cloudless blue sky on the edge of Lake Clear in Franklin County, Gov. Andrew Cuomo studied the horizon and prepared for a ride.

“I’m here to have fun,” he said. “We’ll get serious later when we talk about how to promote tourism and provide economic development and jobs. We’re going to put the two together — the story of Adirondack tourism is a story that hasn’t yet been told.”

Cuomo was in this small hamlet in the town of Lake Clear — and later, in the village of Lake Placid — for the 2014 Adirondack Winter Challenge, a daylong event designed to highlight winter tourism in Upstate New York where an estimated 400 elected officials and winter enthusiasts from across the state gathered on Sunday, March 9 to participate in wintertime sports, including bobsledding, toboggan rides, curling, speed-skating and of course, snowmobiling.

New York State Snowmobile Association President Jim Elmore said snowmobiling generated $868 million in revenue for the state last year — “and that was a slow year,” he said.

“When the chief executive officer of the state recognizes your sport, it’s a huge honor,” he said.

Elmore said he’s impressed that Cuomo has taken such a hands-on interest in the sport and how snowmobiling clubs operate.

Under weather conditions that all agreed were ideal for riding — a thin layer of snow paired with temperatures just above freezing — the governor made his way through a gauntlet of county lawmakers, including Hamilton County board chairman William Farber, Onondaga County Chief Executive Joanne Mahoney and Essex Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas, who said he was extremely happy that the governor sees the North Country in a fresh, new perspective.

“It’s like free advertising and you can’t put a dollar on that,” said Douglas, donned in riding gear, as he prepared to hop on a sled and navigate the Kushaqua Trail back toward Lake Placid.

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