LAKE PLACID — The Games On attitude is spreading through the northern Adirondacks.
With a decision to host the Empire State Winter Games expressly for New York state's youth, Lake Placid and its team of can-do keepers has earned support from both Essex County and the Village of Saranac Lake.
Collaboration is set to keep the long-standing competition alive.
And in fact, talk has already begun about expanding the event in 2012.
When budget constraints pushed the state to eliminate funds that kept Empire State Games running for 30 years, the Village of Lake Placid, the Lake Placid Convention and Visitor's Bureau, and the towns of North Elba and Wilmington stepped up to the gate.
It seems they've pushed off with a strong start.
So far, the partnership of Adirondack communities has generated nearly $70,000 in seed money, including registration fees, toward the event that last year had a budget of $150,000.
Adding venues, a snowshoeing competition will take place this year at Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake, just a few weeks after their 114th Winter Carnival.
"We're all in this together," Mayor Clyde Rabideau said of the village's decision to pitch in with its village-run ski, inner tube and recreation center.
"Lake Placid is eight miles away, and Saranac Lake sees the Empire State Games as an opportunity to work with our neighbors."
Wilmington, home to Whiteface Mountain, will host the alpine ski events as it has for many years.
Ice skating, hockey and other ski and ice events will be held in Lake Placid.
The can-do attitude is something the North Country knows a lot about, Rabideau said.
"It's what's called 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' — you don't need Big Brother or Albany or the government to do this. In fact, you can do almost anything you want as long as you work together."
With Mount Pisgah for snowshoeing events this year, the community will draw from a larger pool of celebrated volunteer spirit to stage competition.
"We'll be reaching out for volunteer help, but I'm not worried," Rabideau said. "This is Saranac Lake."
Kathy Pfohl, community relations director for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, is program director for the Empire State Winter Games.
She said they have begun to look for corporate and other in-kind support.
"The sponsorship committee put together a package of options, and we just started getting it out," Pfohl said Monday.
"People are beginning to have meetings and discuss the possibilities. We're open."
The State Winter Games website is being built and should go online next week, providing athletes, winter sporting clubs and athletic foundations with a central place for entry forms and schedule information.
Pfohl said they are looking for stories from people statewide who have participated in the games.
"Just stories about how the Empire State Games may have touched their lives, either in pursuing their sport or in life in general. We would like to post them on the website that we're almost ready to launch, maybe beginning next week."
not giving up
A winter beach party has been put in motion for the Saturday night of the games, she said.
"Joe Lamb will be heading up the community effort for what we've named a Festival of the Games, an outdoor winter beach party at Mirror Lake."
There is talk of pageantry with a parade of athletes and fireworks, she said.
The winter Empire State Games have been held here for 30 years, and Lake Placid and neighbors in Wilmington, Saranac Lake and the state-owned venues run by the Olympic Regional Development Authority are not about to give up the tradition.
"It makes sense for us to do this for the athletes," said James McKenna, president of LPEC Quality Destination Inc., the umbrella organization fiscally responsible for the newly adopted games.
"The list of alums that emerged from these games tells us how important they are to athlete development," he said in a statement, referring to Olympic gold, silver and bronze medalists Bill Demong, Diann Roffe, Jimmy Shea and Andrew Weibrecht, who all competed at Empire State Games on their way to the Winter Olympics.
The events may look a little different with a Lake Placid, Wilmington and now a little Saranac Lake finesse, but the podiums remain the same.
"The difference really is it's the entire community running these games this year," Pfohl said.
"It's about the kids, the athletes and the entire community working together."
The 2011 Empire State Winter Games will be held Feb. 25 through 27 at regional sites in Saranac Lake and Wilmington, as well as the Olympic venues maintained, operated and staffed by ORDA.
Past competitors with a story to share or anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Pfohl at 523-2445, Ext. 110 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-mail Kim Smith Dedam at: email@example.com