January 13, 2023 | at the FISU Winter University Games
The FISU World University Games in Lake Placid 2023 kicked off Thursday night with a star performance at the opening ceremony. The production was the work of executive producer Mark Poncher, who worked on the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro 2007 and Guadalajara 2011, among others.
Prior to the event, Poncher summed up Lake Placid’s role of winter and Olympic history in the ceremony.
“When we look at the word ‘winter’, we look at ‘Save Winter’, ‘Celebrate Winter’, ‘Enjoy Winter’ and ‘Protect Winter’… These are our first FISU games, but we’ve worked in many different stadiums around the world and we’re really excited to be part of this particular stadium with its rich history.”
The ceremony began with the Oneida Indian nation and the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe welcoming their ancestors. After the welcome speech, a song was sung in honor of the higher spirits of traditional beliefs, in which the audience was asked to respond with a refrain, which means “Beautiful” in the local indigenous language. Lake Placid lies in the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, a confederation of tribes formed in the 15th century.p century and currently includes the Oneida, Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga and Tuscarora nations.
Shortly after, the parade of nations began with Argentina and their three-man delegation. All 46 participating countries were represented, with the most notable flag bearers being Olympian Magnus Bøe from Norway and Tomas Klinsky, who won a silver medal in the super-G at the 2019 FISU World University Games in Krasnoyarsk.
The flagship host was Van Ledger of Lake Placid, the 2020 Youth Olympian in biathlon. After a speedy parade ride by the Games’ mascot, the Adirondack Mac, the star banner was interpreted by 2018 U.S. bobsleigh Olympian Christopher Kinney.
The last legs of the torch relay were divided between Lake Placid natives Jim Miller, Art Lussi, Andrew Weibrecht and their children. They lit an LED-powered boiler located on Main Street in Lake Placid.