Updated: January 29, 2020 04:47 PM
Created: January 29, 2020 12:25 PM
BETHLEHEM - The Empire State Winter Games begin on Thursday and one of the two torch relays made its way through the Capital Region on Wednesday morning.
NewsChannel 13 was at the Bethlehem YMCA to see the torch hand-off and to speak with some athletes who will be competing over the next few days.
"It's awesome competing against people out there,” figure skater Trista Sci said.
"I've been going to the Empire State Winter Games for four years. I've enjoyed it every year I've gone,” figure skater Katharine Stapf said.
"Most of us skated there as children and so now coming out of retirement and coming back at the adult level is really exciting, nostalgic actually,” synchronized skater Colleen Miller said.
This year, 2,500 athletes from 15 states and three countries will be competing in 30 winter sports at the games.
"This is the largest annual amateur athletic winter event in North America, second only to the Olympics,” volunteer Linda Finkle said.
Speaking of the Olympics, some athletes said competing at the site of the iconic winter games is a huge draw.
"I think there's just something about skating up in Lake Placid up on that 1980 rink. It's just kind of amazing and it's just lots of fun,” synchronized skater Kate VanDerlofske said.
This year there are two torch relays making their way through New York state. One relay started in Buffalo, the other began in New York City.
Each relay is making stops to greet athletes and fans along the way. The torches will meet in Lake Placid ahead of the opening ceremony on Thursday.
"I think it's going to be a fantastic weekend and a great thing for our region as well for people to come and visit the Adirondacks if they haven't had a chance to," Finkle said.
Attendance is free, so if you're interested, you can find a schedule here.
Copyright 2020 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company