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CNY athletes head once again to Empire State Winter Games

A circle of legs and ice skates on the ground
Syracuse Symmetry
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Syracuse Symmetry's synchronized skaters are among the local athletes set to compete at the 44th Empire State Winter Games

The 44th Empire State Winter Games officially kick off tonight with the lighting of the torch, which spent five days traveling to Lake Placid, New York. The opening ceremony will take place in the same arena that hosted the 1980 Olympics.

The Games events will start on Friday, across 22 categories, from cross-country skiing and luge to synchronized skating, including local team Syracuse Symmetry.

The team's coach, Brittany Hoffman-Smith, says she herself grew up competing in the historical rink where the 'Miracle on Ice' US Men’s Hockey team won gold over the Soviet Union.

“When I was a kid, we took it for granted that we were skating on that 'Miracle' ice of the 1980 Olympics,” Hoffman-Smith said. “You can’t help but walk in there and think, ‘Oh my god, the magic that has happened here.’”

There will be some 2,500 athletes taking over Lake Placid and the surrounding area for the weekend. Central New York competitors include speed skaters Liam Myers and siblings Nagi and Saruar Aitbayeva, as well as Olympic Development Team luger Michael Montegari.

The Empire State Winter Games run through Sunday, February 4.

Nate Harrington is a student reporter for WAER.