Back to the Newsroom

2023 Empire State Winter Games to Open Thursday Night with Mirror Lake Ceremony, Light Show Main Street Gallop


CONTACT: Meri-Jo Borzilleri, Empire State Winter Games Communications & Media, ( Tel: 719-337-7987,, Twitter @ESWGames

ESWG Opening Ceremony is set for 6 p.m. on Village’s Public Beach

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The 43rd Empire State Winter Games is expected to welcome 2,000 athletes to the Opening Ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday for the Feb. 2-5 event that will feature 23 sports competitions on snow and ice.

Coming just 11 days after the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games ended, the ESWG marks the return of the annual competition for athletes of all ages from New York, surrounding states and Canada.

The ceremony will have a cowboy theme. Like last year, it is set for the village public beach and Mirror Lake, near where 1980 Olympic speedskater Eric Heiden received his history-making five gold medals. The ceremony is also the endpoint for the five-day, 700-mile ESWG Torch Relay that began January 29 from Buffalo and New York City.

With title sponsor Community Bank, N.A., along with presenting sponsors Zappone Chrysler Jeep Dodge Inc.; Jeep; Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York; Stewart’s Shops; Casella Waste Systems and Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, the torch relay has been welcomed by dozens of communities along the two routes.

The sustainable LED-powered torch is due to arrive in Lake Placid at 4 p.m. and be escorted from Community Bank on Saranac Ave. to the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort on Main Street, and then to the beach.

It will then be carried via horse and rider down Main Street to Mid’s Park, where ski jumper Max Fey, 12, a Lake Placid resident and the 2023 ESWG Athlete of the Year, is expected to light the new carbon-free cauldron, created for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games, to open the ESWG. The cauldron will stay lighted for the duration of the ESWG, which will conclude Sunday.

“I wasn’t really expecting to get Athlete of the Year,” said Fey, whose video garnered the most likes and interactions from online supporters. “I was just very excited to get it. I’m just really excited to light the cauldron and do all that.”

Fey, a student at Lake Placid Middle School, is coming off setting the new hill record on Little Nansen Ski Jump last weekend in Berlin, N.H. Fey, who started jumping at age 5, is the son of Heather and Chris Fey and has jumped in competitions in Norway, Alaska, Chicago, Park City and Steamboat Springs. His next big meet is Junior Nationals in Coleraine, Minn. Feb. 21-25.

He says jumping “feels like flying. Like if you were to stick your head out of a car window, but you have your entire body out of the window.”

Fey, part of the New York Ski Educational Foundation, said the best part about jumping is “you get to meet lots of people and get to jump a lot of hills. I want to give a shout-out to NYSEF, where I learned to jump, and coaches Colin Delaney, Larry Stone and Jay Rand.”

The Golden Arrow is also the site of the ESWG Athletes Village, where, in keeping with the Western theme, spectators and athletes will get the chance to ride a mechanical bull and lasso a haybale calf.

Other features are firepits, cowboy cauldrons, make-your-own S’mores, a hotdog roast, hot chocolate, an inflatable curling rink and snowball cornhole. Emcee Stuart Hemsley will conduct Athlete of the Year interviews on the big screen. All events are subject to weather – some will be moved indoors due to low temperatures expected Friday and Saturday.

The Games, with competitions in Lake Placid, Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Paul Smiths, include events ranging from adaptive sports (including sled hockey, Alpine skiing, bobsled and biathlon) to Alpine skiing, figure skating, sliding sports (bobsled, luge, skeleton), ski jumping, Nordic combined, winter biking, ski orienteering, hockey and figure skating.

For more information, including sport schedule and results, visit For photos of the Opening Ceremony and events, see

— ESWG —

Founded in 1980, the Empire State Winter Games are a multi-day winter athletic competition headquartered in Lake Placid, NY. Amateur athletes of all ages and from all over the Northeast and Canada compete in more than 30 winter sports competitions over three days every February. The Empire State Winter Games are a community-driven event, courtesy of a partnership between the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST); the towns of North Elba, Wilmington, Tupper Lake, Harrietstown and Brighton; the villages of Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, Paul Smiths, Wilmington, and Saranac Lake; the counties of Essex and Franklin; the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). Connect with the Games on,, and