The eagerly awaited second edition of the World Ice Skating Day (WISD) is set to dazzle on December 3, 2023. This event promises a spectacular array of global celebrations, showcasing ice skating sports in the most entertaining, imaginative, and inclusive ways. The anticipation is building as the picturesque town of Lake Placid (USA) prepares to host the crown jewel of the WISD - the World Ice Skating Day 2023 “Main Event”. This exciting event will be held at the iconic Olympic Center in Lake Placid, organized by the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (Olympic Authority) in collaboration with the International Skating Union (ISU) and supported by US Figure Skating and US Speed Skating.
Lake Placid: Rich in Ice Skating History
Lake Placid holds a significant place in the world of winter sports, having hosted the third Winter Olympic Games in history in 1932, marking the first time the event ventured outside of Europe. It later returned as the Winter Olympic host city in 1980.
View on the Olympic Center and historic James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval in Lake Placid, United States. © Olympic Authority
Over the years, this iconic location has been home to numerous high-level events and championships, including most recently the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Winter. This year, the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships were also held here.
Team Miami University (USA) performs during the 2023 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Lake Placid, New York. © ISU
The world-class facilities at Lake Placid have been instrumental in nurturing and producing some of the most celebrated winter sport athletes of all time. Among them, local hero Jack Shea, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in Speed Skating. This region has also played host to a multitude of Olympians and champions, who either competed or honed their skills here. Notable names include Sonja Henie (NOR), Eric Heiden (USA), Dick Button (USA), Gustave Lussi (USA), Oleg Protopopov (USSR), Apolo Anton Ohno (USA), Shani Davis (USA), Scott Hamilton (USA), and many more.
Shani Davis (USA) competes during the Men's 1500m Speed Skating race at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Gangneung, South Korea. © Getty Images
Lake Placid has long been associated with fostering creativity in Figure Skating too. Since the 1930s, it has been a hub for producing elaborate theatrical productions, which have left an indelible mark on the sport. Legendary Figure Skater Dick Button was influenced by these shows, inspiring his passionate pursuit of artistic, theatrical on-ice performances. His groundbreaking approach helped transform Figure Skating into a true form of dance, and he is remembered not only as a champion but also as a revolutionary figure in the art and sport of Figure Skating.
Lake Placid is also known for its role in creating "big moments," such as the historic achievement of American Figure Skater Ilia Malinin at the 2022 Challenger Series U.S International Figure Skating Classic, when he became the first man to successfully land a quad axel jump in competition (read here), further solidifying Lake Placid's legacy in the world of winter sports.
Ilia Malinin (USA) competes during the 2022 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Turin, Italy. © ISU
WISD 2023 Main Event: What’s in store?
World Ice Skating Day 2023 Main Event promises to be a day filled with extraordinary performances, thrilling competitions, and a festive atmosphere that will capture the hearts of all who attend. This year, there are several activities planned around Speed Skating, Figure Skating, Ice Dance and Synchronized Skating. Here is an overview of the exciting program that awaits participants:
- Open Skating Sessions: The event is open to all ages and skill levels, allowing everyone to take to the ice and share in the excitement. The session will start around 9:00am at the James.C.Sheffield Speed Skating Oval and will be followed by a “Learn to Skate” session until 10:00am. The Learn to Skate/Open sessions will again resume at 11:30am until 13:00pm at the Oval.
- Speed Skating Demo: The Speed Skating Club of Lake Placid will provide a demo for the participants and potential Speed Skating aspirants from 10:00 -10.30 am.
- Relay showdown: To bring out the competitive spirit among the participants, there will be relay races until 11:30am that will provide an opportunity to experience the speed and athleticism of the sport.
- Parade of Nations: The Skating Club of Lake Placid will showcase a special “Parade of Nations” Exhibition from 13:00 to 13:30pm.
- Meet & Greet: Several Olympians will be present, and the public will have opportunities to meet these legends including US Men’s Figure Skating Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie, the 2022 World Junior Ice Dance Champions Oona and Gage Brown, and the Skyliners Junior Synchronized Skating Team. This meeting will take place at the Empire Room between 13:30 to 14:15pm.
Oona Brown and Gage Brown (USA) perform during the 2022 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Espoo, Finland. © ISU
- 1932 Jack Shea Arena: The proceedings will continue indoor at the 1932 Jack Shea Arena from 15:15pm with a welcome message and dignitary introduction by Paul Wylie.
- Figure Skating Exhibition: The local youth will put together a Figure Skating Exhibition kick starting the proceedings for the afternoon.
- Special Performances: The Ice Dance Champions Oona and Gage Brown will put together an Ice Dance Exhibition followed by a Synchronized Skating Exhibition by the Skyliners Junior Synchronized Skating team until 15:40 pm.
Team Skyliners Junior (USA) performs during the 2023 ISU World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships in Angers, France. © ISU
- Do the #WISDance: A special rendition of the #WISDance will be performed by local skaters. Those present will be invited to join in the fun.
- Music & Food: Food trucks and in-house music will keep the energy levels up and the good vibes flowing throughout the day.
- The Olympic Museum: The Lake Placid Olympic Museum will open its door to host the guests of the WISD 2023 Main Event for the “Meet & Greet” (see point 5 above).
- Roni the Racoon: A throwback to the 1980 Olympic Winter Games – Roni the Olympic mascot will join in the #WISDance fun.
- Disco on Ice: The festivities are scheduled to continue until 18:00pm concluding with a “Disco on Ice” that will welcome all participants, kids, families, guests, and the organizers themselves to get together on the ice for a final World Ice Skating Day celebration.
The ISU President, Mr. Jae Youl Kim, is looking forward to the second edition of the World Ice Skating Day 2023 Main Event stating:
‘’Lake Placid’s unique history with winter sports and ice skating, makes it an ideal setting for the WISD. Our goal is to create a global movement and encourage countries from all continents to participate to the World Ice Skating Day. Lake Placid organized an excellent event last year and we are especially thankful to the Olympic Authority along with US Figure Skating and US Speed Skating for their support and all the activations they have planned for this year’s Main Event . I am confident that Lake Placid will set an exemplary standard, inspiring other countries to become WISD Main Event Partners in the upcoming editions.”
Ashley Walden, President & CEO of the Olympic Authority, is thrilled that Lake Placid is at the center of the WISD celebrations:
“We are extremely honored to be selected by the ISU as a Main Event Partner for the 2023 World Ice Skating Day. There are many excellent locations worldwide and we are proud that the modernized Olympic Center with the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval will host this exciting event. Skating has a special place in Lake Placid’s history, and we are looking forward to celebrating it with our local and worldwide skating communities.”
About World Ice Skating Day
The World Ice Skating Day presented by the International Skating Union (ISU), is a one-day global festival dedicated to Ice Skating celebrated on the first Sunday of December. The key objectives are to make Ice Skating sports accessible to everyone in a fun and safe environment – for first-timers, amateurs, professionals or retired competitive skaters – by creating a memorable experience for the entire family. The concept of the World Ice Skating Day stemmed from the idea to popularize and share the spirit of Ice Skating worldwide through a celebration with a vision towards development, inclusion and fairness. For further information please visit World Ice Skating Day website.
About the Olympic Authority
Established in 1982, the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (Olympic Authority) was created by the State of New York to manage the facilities used during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games at Lake Placid. The Olympic Authority operates Whiteface, Belleayre, and Gore Mountains, Mt Van Hoevenberg, the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, the Olympic Jumping Complex, and the Olympic Center. As host to international, national, regional and local events, the Olympic Authority's venues are destinations and economic catalysts of the regions it serves.