This year was the 40th Anniversary of the Empire State Winter Games and I had the opportunity to Stage Manage the Opening Ceremonies event for the 14th year in a row. There were approximately 3600 athletes participating and over 6,000 audience members. The largest and most successful event to date. This is always a wonderful event, brining together athletes from throughout NY for the many disciplines of Winter Sports.
It feels like a NYS Olympics and the energy is contagious. As a former competitive figure skater, I competed in the very first Empire State Games and 5 subsequent years, and still have my medals and polyester track suits. Some years later, as a National Competitor, I was honored to be invited back as a guest star performer in the opening ceremonies. As a figure skating coach, I have had many a student competing in the games and they always are most excited for this event. As a mother of 2 ski jumpers and a cross-country athlete, my boys have participated and walked in the opening ceremonies for the last 5 years. To say the games are near and dear to my heart is an understatement. They are winter highlight for our vibrant Lake Placid Community.
Since the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, the Empire State Games were created as a sort of mini-Olympic games for a NYS championships in all winter Olympic sports. Thousands of athletes gather every year to compete and the games kick off with an Olympic-like opening ceremonies, complete with a parade of athletes in uniform carrying the banner of their respective sports. In the 80’s I had the honor to compete in and even win the Empire State Winter Games as a competitive figure skater. In the 90’s after making the National Team as an ice dancer, I came back to NYS as a guest star to perform with my partner in the opening ceremonies. This year, all three of my sons are competing in the Games (two in Nordic Combined and one in Cross Country).
For the 10th year in a row I had the privilege to also be involved with the games as one of the Producers and Managers of the opening ceremonies. This year, I was stage directing. The show involved the entrance of three-thousand athletes, bike stunts on zamboni’s and gondola cars, dignitary speeches, a laser show, slide show and later fireworks. It is a wonderful event for New York and a great way to showcase all of the wonders and deep Olympic History in Lake Placid.
Mimi Wacholder, Founder and Principal Consultant