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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2023,, Twitter @ESWGames

Empire State Winter Games Crowns Para-Bobsled Gold Medalist

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The 43rd Empire State Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. kicked off, today, Feb. 2, with adaptive skeleton racing on the Mt Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex sliding track. A pair of Texans, Mike Villagran of Houston and Lee Kuxhaus of Schertz, raced to gold and bronze medals, respectively.
Villagran, who won last year’s title, conquered the one-mile-long icy course in a three-run time of one minute, 59.27 seconds. En route to the bronze medal, Kuxhaus completed his two race runs in 2:07.40.

Chris Tarte of Russellville, Ark., claimed the silver medal. He finished his two runs in 2:02.57.

Skeleton racing is a winter sport in which the sled features a pair of rounded steel runners, fastened to its bottom. The sled is driven headfirst, in a prone position. The athlete steers the sled by shifting his or her position on the sled, while reaching speeds of up to 80-miles per hour. Skeleton competitions are typically held on the same courses used for bobsled and luge events.

Gary Weiland of Ponder, Texas won the para-bobsled title. He finished in 2:22.09, while DJ Skelton of Reston, Va. won silver with a combined time of 2:23.69.
Para-bobsled, where adaptive athletes race in single-person bobsleds, or mono-bobs, is one of several adaptive events in the Empire State Winter Games. Almost 2,200 athletes from New York State and beyond are competing in 21 winter sports throughout Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Paul Smiths. For more information, go to

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