By Kellen M. Quigley
On its way to Lake Placid for the opening ceremony to the annual Empire State Winter Games (ESWG), the ceremonial torch began its several-hundred-mile journey earlier this week in Western New York.
Heading out from Holiday Valley in Ellicottville on Sunday, Jan. 27, the torch passed through Springville Monday on its route to Kissing Bridge before heading up to the Buffalo area.
At about 4 p.m., Ryan Grady, Torch Relay Director for the ESWG, ran the ceremonial game torch up to skiers at Kissing Bridge who then took it on the ride of its life down one of the slopes.
The torch was handed off to Jack Schleyer, of Springville, who was accompanied by several of his fellow skiers in the Kissing Bridge Alpine Club.
Six Alpine Club members will be at the Empire State Winter Games this weekend, one of whom current ranks #1.
Earlier in the day, the torch arrived at the Gowanda Elementary School after visiting the Jamestown area.
A group of elementary students ran the torch from the school district’s bus garage on Panther Drive. From there, students representing the Gowanda Middle School carried the torch up Panther Drive and on to Prospect Street.
With a stop at the front circle of the high school, the torch was passed to student representatives of the high school for the final leg of Gowanda’s part of the relay.
Traveling from Prospect Street up West Main Street, the torch finally arrived at Community Bank in Gowanda. There everyone in attendance was served hot chocolate and coffee by bank employees.
The final Community Bank stop also provided a photo opportunity for friends, family and Empire State Winter Games officials. Accompanying the torch through the relay was an ESWG representative, faculty representatives from the school group running that leg and escort by both state and local police departments.
The torch began its journey at Holiday Valley Sunday, Jan. 27, when snowboarder Grace Dalton had the honor of taking the torch from Grady before carving down one of the slopes with torch in hand as the kick off to the relay.
The Empire State Winter Games is a multi-day sports event that is used to bring together winter sports athletes from across New York state and beyond.
For 39 years the Empire State Winter Games have offered a platform for more than 2,100 athletes of all ages to compete in over 30 winter sports events. Some events include alpine, luge, bobsled, cross country, hockey and snowboard cross. The games are located in New York’s Adirondacks and take place from Jan. 31 through Feb. 3.
A torch relay is used each year to kick-off the beginning of the Empire State Winter Games. Two torches will travel across New York state, each on separate routes for five days, one beginning in New York City and the other in Western New York
The torch headed from Holiday Valley to Jamestown, then north to Gowanda, east to Yorkshire and then to Kissing Bridge Snow Sports, located north of Springville, on Monday before heading to the Buffalo area.
Both torches were scheduled to arrive at their final location in the Adirondacks on Thursday, Jan. 31 during opening ceremonies to set the stage for the Empire State Winter Games.