Paul Smith's College is expanding its athletics and recreation programs to leverage the college's unique facilities, provide a collegiate success track for high performance athletes, and continue a regional Olympic heritage that's even older than the college itself.
Following the college's recent announcement of the addition of women's ice hockey for the fall of 2018, a program to be directed by Olympic silver medalist Andrea Kilbourne-Hill, a number of other initiatives are underway.
Among those efforts is an increased emphasis on supporting and training athletes in Nordic and biathlon skiing events, made possible by a combination of uniquely consistent snowfall in the area, facilities at the Paul Smith's College VIC, and regional connections to current and former Olympians that have called the region home in Lowell Bailey, Billy Demong and Tim Burke.
All have made their mark in skiing competition, including historical career achievements: Bailey enters this year's Winter Olympics having recently claimed the nation's first biathlon world championship win, Demong is a two-time Olympic medalist whose gold in Vancouver's combined event was also a first for the United States, and for Burke, a Paul Smiths native, Pyeongchang will mark his fourth Olympic appearance and one that's just over a month removed from a fourth-place finish in a 10 k sprint race in Germany.
The VIC, with its 25 miles of trail and spacious indoor gear and training facilities, will serve home to athletes seeking to follow the footsteps of those mentioned.
While regional athletes are currently in the medal pursuit, history is also part of Paul Smith's story. In 1932, during the first Olympic Winter Games to be held in the US, the hotel provided lodging to spectators. Eighteen years later, students helped develop the second-largest intercollegiate ski run in the east, and two years after, the college played host to US Olympic trials in Nordic and alpine ski events.
In 1980, famous for the Miracle on Ice, on-campus housing provided lodging for workers and is still in use today.
Beginning now, student athletes will have the opportunity to take advantage of facilities at Paul Smith's and nearby Lake Placid to train and prepare for the next level of competition, including the possibility of competing at home in the 2023 World University Games.
The region, including the VIC, is currently a contender to host the competition.
The expansion, however, isn't limited to skiing events. The college is raising funds to install an artificial turf field that will extend training seasons and play host to a myriad of events, while the construction of a biathlon range will reflect a push toward developing athletes in what is the most popular Olympic television sport in Europe.
Expanded outdoor mountain biking and rock climbing facilities are also in the works at Paul Smith's.
The focus isn't exclusively limited to athletics – new academic programs are in development, including sports management, and bolstered online coursework opportunities will better support student athletes whose pursuits will take them off campus while training or competing.
About Paul Smith's College
At Paul Smith's College, it's about the experience. We are the only four-year institution of higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs – in fields including hospitality, culinary arts, forestry, natural resources, entrepreneurship and the sciences – draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. For more information, visit www.paulsmiths.edu/.