January 13, 2023 | at the FISU Winter University Games
Most countries had one ensign at the 2023 FISU Winter University Games opening ceremony at Lake Placid. Some had two. For none of them, however, it was a moment as special as for local star Van Ledger.
“It was exciting to bring my country out,” said the 20-year-old member of the U.S. biathlon team, who was born and raised in Lake Placid. “We finished last as hosts, so I felt a bit of pressure. It was a joy to go out with the huge crowd, flashlights and cameras.”
The moment was made even more special by the fact that Ledger was able to share it not only with his American teammates on the ice, but also with friends and family who watched the ceremony live at the historic Herb Brooks Arena.
“I accidentally saw almost the whole family at the opening ceremony leading up to the event. They were delighted.
Ledger received a surprise call from Team USA days before the opening event.
“I didn’t know anything about it until the day before the ceremony. I was unpacking at home and got a call from the team that I had been selected carry the flag. To be honest, it was a big surprise because it wasn’t something I thought about. No doubt a nice conversation.
A current Montana State University student graduated from Lake Placid High School in 2020. He returned home to participate in the FISU Games.
“It’s fun to see familiar faces around town. I don’t sleep at home, only with the team. Better to go out alone and go through the Games the right way.
Every sporting event has its own traditions, and one of them at the FISU World University Games, which continued during the opening ceremony, is collecting pins from other countries.
“That was the good part when we were with the other ensigns in the room leading up to the event. There was plenty of time to meet athletes from around the world and exchange pins.”
As a local athlete, Ledger is also an ambassador for Lake Placid and knows almost everything about this historic site.
“Lake Placid is an amazing city. It’s small but there’s lots to do. I live in Montana now, but still come back every summer and enjoy the nature and fresh air.”
On Saturday at Mount Van Hoevenberg, the first biathlon competition will take place, with individual races for men and women.