Local athletes donate items to benefit Empire State Winter Games

LAKE PLACID, ADIRONDACKS, USA – Six members of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic team, who were Empire State Winter Games athletes earlier in their careers, have rallied around the upcoming competitions, Feb. 25-27, to raise additional money via an online auction.

Internet bidders can log on to www.empirestatewintergames.com/auction, and peruse the 19 items that will remain available to the public through Feb. 26 when the online auction concludes.

Nordic skier Bill Demong, of Vermontville, N.Y., 2010 Olympic gold and silver medalist, has donated a pair of cross country skis that were in his stable at the Vancouver events. In addition, some of Demong's official outwear is available for bidders.

Alpine skiing's Andrew Weibrecht, of Lake Placid, N.Y., Olympic bronze medalist in Super G, is offering his 2010 United States Ski Team jacket among other items.

Joining forces with Demong and Weibrecht are U.S. biathlete Haley Johnson, also of Lake Placid, with her Olympic teammates Lowell Bailey, of Lake Placid, and Tim Burke of Paul Smith's, N.Y. Burke held the World Cup leader's bib several times last season.

Bobsledder and World Cup winner John Napier, of Schenectady and Lake Placid, N.Y., rounds out the lineup of Olympians helping the cause.

"The Empire State Winter Games were an important part of my life," said Johnson, who has donated one of her competition suits. "They were important to me in my development. It meant a lot to compete against the entire state. The Empire State Winter Games were a marker I could assess every year and gauge my progress. Hopefully, my donation will be a connection to people interested in winter sports, who might not otherwise get the chance."

Initially, the Games were a casualty of the New York state budget crunch, and were canceled for 24 hours before a regional coalition emerged virtually overnight to save the competitions.

The action of this public-private partnership insures the continuity of the yearly events, which started in 1980, just weeks after the Lake Placid Winter Olympics.

At a press conference held Thursday afternoon in Lake Placid, Weibrecht and Johnson expressed their delight in the manner in which many entities collaborated to continue the tradition of the Games. 

To view the items on eBay, visit THIS LINK

For more information about the Empire State Winter Games, visit www.empirestatewintergames.com

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The Empire State Winter Games is a community-driven event, courtesy of a partnership between the Lake Placid CVB, the Town of North Elba, the Village of Lake Placid, the NY State Olympic Regional Development Authority, the Village of Saranac Lake, the Town of Wilmington, Town of Harrietstown, Town of St. Armand and Essex County. LPEC Quality Destination, Inc., an arm of the LPEC Visitors Bureau, is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, and is fiscally responsible for the ESWG.