The Adirondack village of Saranac Lake is preparing to host the World Snowshoe Championships. The competition, which is being held in the United States for the first time, begins Friday.
Nearly 400 athletes have registered to compete Saturday. The inaugural U.S. event includes the World and Junior World Championships, with athletes from 21 American states and 11 nations competing.
Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau expects the village to benefit over the long-term. “We’re going to have well over 2,000 people descend upon Saranac Lake. It means all our hotels rooms are filled, a lot of AirBnB homes are filled. Plus there should be a good residual marketing branding type of effect because people will see and feel Saranac Lake and want to come back. We’re certain of that.”
The event begins Friday evening with an athletes’ parade to Town Hall followed by formal opening ceremonies.
Race director Jim Tucker, also Paul Smith’s College Director of Athletics and Empire State Snowshoe Racing Association President, says the event is drawing elite athletes from around the world. “David Le Porho, who’s out of Quebec, he’s a two time world champion. The top snowshoe runners from the United States, the top runners from Canada, and the best ones from Europe. Some of these people haven’t raced on the same course at the same time but many of them I’ve seen at world championships. U.S. competitors I’ve seen at nationals. The men’s race will be extremely thick. At the top ten are people who typically make money as runners.”
Tucker notes that the racers will encounter a variety of terrain along the course. “For people that have raced at world championships in the past this one is highly likely to be the most physically challenging course they’ve ever faced. It’ll be heading up what locals historically called Blood Hill. From there it’ll traverse through the woods into the Dewey Mountain property and take them up over the top of Dewey Mountain and then back down around Maple Hill and then back down to the shore of Lake Flower and Riverside Park.”
The event was in the spotlight in January when Kashmiri athletes were unable to obtain visas to compete due to “current policies.” Mayor Rabideau reports that with the help of New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, the two were subsequently granted visas. “Thankfully these gentlemen were able to get their visas second go around. There was a lot of help from our Senators and a representative. These guys are excited to be here and the community has really adopted them and they’re looking forward to meeting them and cheering them on too. And that’s Abid (Khan) and Tanveer (Hussain) from Kashmir Province of India.”
Most of the races, including the 5-kilometer and 10k, will be at Dewey Mountain, where recent snowstorms have established a deep base. The village has stockpiled snow to spread on the small amount of street area that racers will traverse.