FISU World Conference to address climate change and winter sports

Esteemed author, environmentalist, journalist and activist Bill McKibben headlines the list of speakers at the conference.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The FISU World Conference, scheduled to coincide with the opening week of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games, will feature athletes, advocates, authors, innovators, environmental leaders in both the private sector and government, and researchers, focusing on The Intersection of Climate Change and Winter Sports. The conference will be held Jan. 13-15, 2023. 

Esteemed author, environmentalist, journalist and activist Bill McKibben; Nathan Chen, the reigning men’s Olympic figure skating gold medalist; and national wilderness activist Aaron Mair headline the list of speakers at the conference. Topics will include alternative energy, farming, forestry, food activism, the science of ice and snow and diversity in the outdoors.

 “Winter sporting communities and athletes alike are seeing first-hand the impact of climate change on winter sport,” said Ashley Walden, Adirondack Sports Council executive director and a member of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games’ Organizing Committee. “It’s an incredible honor that so many experts and industry leaders have agreed to join us in Lake Placid this winter to educate and advocate on this critical topic.”

 McKibben, called “probably America’s most important environmentalist” by the Boston Globe, is the co-founder and senior advisor at, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. McKibben is a distinguished scholar in environmental studies at Middlebury College of Middlebury, Vt., who has organized 20,000 rallies worldwide, led the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline and launched the fossil fuel divestment movement.

 Last February, Chen became just the seventh American figure skater to capture Olympic gold in the men’s individual competition. Chen is currently attending Yale University where he’s majoring in statistics and data science. In 2021 he joined Team Panasonic and now promotes the “Panasonic Green Impact” initiative, which strives to achieve carbon neutrality.

 Mair currently serves as the Adirondack Wilderness campaign director for the Adirondack Council. He was the 57th president of the Sierra Club. Mair also founded Albany’s Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corporation and Albany’s W. Haywood Burns Environmental Education Center.

 Other speakers will include athlete-activists and filmmakers from Protect our Winters (POW) Kitty Calhoun and Graham Zimmerman; president Kathleen Rogers; author Kristin Kimball; and Players for the Planet co-founder Chris Dickerson. Climate and environmental experts from New York State agencies, including the State’s Olympic Regional Development Authority, will discuss New York’s efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainable infrastructure that will continue to support winter sports. Academic experts and researchers from Paul Smith’s College, Clarkson University and Texas A&M University will be joined by representatives from Canadian universities Wilfrid Laurier and the University of Waterloo. Additional speakers and panelists are expected.

 The FISU World Conference will be held in conjunction with the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games, a winter multisport event and educational festival for collegiate athletes aged 17-25, set for Jan. 12-22, 2023. The global event is expected to draw 1,500 athletes from more than 50 countries and 600 universities. Athletes will compete in 12 winter sports with competitions held in Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, North Creek, Wilmington, Canton, and Potsdam.

 “The Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games represents the first time that sustainability is a major theme in an international collegiate multisport event and is designed to be a model for future FISU Games,” added Karlan Jessen, Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games’ head of legacy and sustainability. “It’s especially great since we are able to offer this conference at little or no cost to anyone who chooses to attend, with a special focus on attracting students.”

 Other events during conference week include the special “A Night at the Wild Center” in Tupper Lake on Saturday, Jan. 14, and a film festival Sunday, Jan. 15 that will showcase short films on sports and the environment.

 “A Night at the Wild Center” has limited reservations for $25 and includes a light seasonal dinner, a special guest speaker, docent tours of the center’s Climate Solutions exhibit, and walking tours of the Wild Lights Exhibit. The film festival and other conference sessions are free and open to the public with limited seating.  Conference content will also be available virtually during and after the event.

Reservations are now being accepted by visiting the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games’ official website, Questions about the Conference can be directed to:

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