The torch for the World University Games in Lake Placid has a special meaning.

“A torch embodies brightness, energy and strength, reflecting the qualities that university athletes personify,” a narrator said. It traveled from the home of University Sport - Torino, Italy - to Pier 45 in New York City and around all of New York state before finding its way to Lake Placid this month.

“We melted some ice over that flame and it turned into water. We poured it into the torch and the water gave life to the torch that we have here,” said Karlan Jessen, the head of the FISU World University Games legacy and sustainability efforts.

“The torch is actually the vessel that the spirit of the games travels in,” she said.

What You Need To Know

  • The torch for the World University games uses LED technology to highlight the focus of saving winter

  • The torch starts red, like a flame, but can also turn blue, to represent the importance of water, snow and ice

  • The games hosted a special conference this weekend to highlight climate change concerns and how to best mitigate it

Jessen demonstrated just how different the torch is compared to anything university, or even world sport, has ever seen.

“The torch for the 2023 Lake Placid World University Games is unique in every way. It’s the first time that there will be a completely carbon-free and fossil fuel-free torch for one of these games,” Jessen said.

On Thursday, the torch’s “flame” lit the cauldron and marked the beginning of 2023 World University Games. It then, transformed into something even more important.

“The blue of the torch symbolizes ice and water and the power of both,” Jessen said.

The near two-foot torch actually produces an LED light flame, highlighting the game’s focus on sustainability while also limiting its impact on the climate.

That is important because people in the Adirondacks know how critical it is to save winter.

“This is the winter sports capital of the world. We know in order to keep that legacy going forward, you need to watch our impacts in every aspect,” Jessen added.

To further the efforts, FISU chose venues in Lake Placid and surrounding communities to host events, because so many of them use hydroelectric power. Water powering winter.

The torch was designed and built by Adirondack Studios in Washington County. It the same business that built the award podiums for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.