LAKE PLACID – It’s been nearly 43 years since the Olympic games that saw miracles take shape in Lake Placid. Now in 2023, athletes from over 45 countries are getting to work in the small New York town top try and prove they are the best collegiate athletes in their respective sports.
On Thursday evening, the opening ceremony commenced to officially kick off the 2023 FISU World University Games.

“Seeing everybody and all the athletes, they obviously do it up real nice,” said 21-year-old Davy Wallen about the opening ceremony. “You get to see them all in one place also. You get to see all the countries involved. It’s just a good time, a good way to open up the whole FISU Olympics.”

Do it up they did. It was a night of dance and ice dance and other performances that would be near impossible to categorize.

Each country got its moment to shine as over the first hour, each athlete proceeded by their countries flag walked across the ice before moving to their seats. The Ukrainians were a notable arrival to the ceremony, they were heavily applauded in recognition of all they’ve had to endure over the last few years. Of course, when the Americans were announced, chants of USA rained down to the ice in a similar fashion to the cries of the fans from that fateful hockey game in 1980.

During the night, fans realizing the significance of where they were seated. “The fact that it all happened here, history happened right here. I think that’s incredible,” said Wallen.

“Today is really reminding me more of that day and of the feeling that I had that day. It’s bringing it all back because this is the Herb Brooks Arena,” said Karen Peters, a Wilmington, NY resident who attended the 1980 Olympic games with her husband, Bob.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul made sure to mention the “miracle” game during her remarks before the declaration we were all waiting for. “Let the 2023 World University Games begin!”

This year, the opening ceremony has seemed to run smoothly, but the last time one took place in Lake Placid during those 1980 games, things didn’t go as well. “The opening ceremonies were an organizational disaster,” said Richard Shippee, a resident of New York City who was at the opening ceremony in 1980. “The shuttle bus drivers went on strike the day before through the day of and almost half the people missed the opening ceremony because they couldn’t get to the arena.”

That wasn’t the case of Thursday night though. The attendance for the ceremony was 4,359.

With the history lake placid possess, memories are connected with every corner. The Peters have a special one with a special man from 1980. “The day before [the miracle game against the Soviets] we met Herb Brooks out on the street,” said Bob Peters. “[We] got his autograph, spoke to him and said ‘the hockey team is really doing quite good’ and he said ‘not bad for a bunch of college kids.'”

We know what those college kids went on to do. For the remainder of the games, these college kids will attempt to leave their mark on Lake Placid and remind America that this is a town for, “winter sports,” said Shippee. “It’s the Olympic town, that and Squaw Valley means the Olympics in the U.S.”

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The FISU World Games will continue through January 22. Stay up to date with the events on mychamplainvalley.com.