LAKE PLACID — The Olympic torch in Sochi, Russia burst to life on Friday night.
As if in reply, an hour later, Lake Placid’s 1980 Olympic cauldron was rekindled, half the world away.
Young athletes with the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) counted down in earnest, bringing their own sparkle to the giant torch.
The ceremony here on Friday gathered together Olympic event organizers, Lake Placid officials and volunteers from the 1980 Winter XIII Games.
And among a crowd of hundreds, athletes competing this weekend in New York’s Empire State Winter Games drew inspiration from the wind-tossed, dancing fire.
At 16, Emily Concialdi, of Cortland Manor, is set to compete this weekend in the Giant Slalom and Slalom events in the Empire State Games.
“It’s so cool,” she said under a bright smile.
“It almost feels like the Olympics.”
Her brother, Matthew, at 14, is competing in slopestyle snowboarding at New York’s Winter Games.
They are staying in Lake Placid with their entire family.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” Matthew surmised of the tall steel torch.
“I think it would be pretty cool to go to the Olympics.”
“I hope all the U.S. athletes bring home the gold,” Emily said.
The inspiration from Olympic fire seemed to spread.
Among NYSEF athletes was a pile of 10-year-olds who intend to compete as Olympians some day.
“Yes I do,” Patrick Manning, of Lake Placid, said with emphasis.
He skis Freestyle.
“Everybody would be watching you do something that you love.”
Madison Kostoss, also 10, has her eye on Alpine racing.
“I want to go to the Olympics because I like racing,” she said.
Cross-country skiing is 10-year-old Nate Ball’s specialty.
Olympians in Sochi now and the athletes here are an inspiration to him.
“In the Olympics, you get to perform one of your favorite sports in front of the entire world,” he explained.
Gabby Cote, too, wants to ski in Olympic Games.
“I would love to be growing up doing the sport I love.”
And Alex Wright, who is eight-years-old, said he likes going fast.
Being an Olympian holds special promise, to him.
“Because I get a gold medal if I win.”
Watching the flame burn, Christian Colaiezzi, 14, from Scranton, Pa., said the start to Empire State Games has been exciting.
He will compete in Luge at the Bobsled Run at Mount VanHoevenberg where USA Luge teams train.
“It’s my first race,” Christian said. “I’m really pumped.”
A relay of young athletes carried the flame from the 1980 Cauldron to a smaller torch in Mid’s Park beside Mirror Lake.
LIT FOR GAMES
Lake Placid plans to keep that torch lit for the Empire State Winter Games and throughout the XXII Olympiad in Sochi.
A large screen Jumbotron set up at the bandshell in Mid’s Park will broadcast Olympic events throughout the coming two weeks.
And a festive Empire State Winter Games celebration is planned for tonight at the Oval on Main Street.
Empire Sportfest will bring music, a bonfire and fireworks to a central gathering place for athletes, family and Lake Placid friends.
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