World University Games torch helping put focus on climate


Torches, flames, have been used for centuries to signal the start of international sporting events. This January, when the World University Games takes over Lake Placid, the torch will be a little different.

It has special meaning to highlight the importance of the Adirondack region.

“A flashlight embodies brightness, energy and strength and reflects the qualities that varsity athletes embody,” said a speaker at a special event in Turin, Italy.

From the home of university sports in Turin, Italy, to Pier 45 in New York City and throughout New York State…

“We melted some ice over this flame and it turned into water. We poured it into the torch and the water brought the torch to life that we have here,” said Karlan Jessen, FISU World University Games Head of Legacy and Sustainability.

… to his hometown, Lake Placid, through the World University Games in January.

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


what you need to know

  • The World University Games are slated to begin Jan. 12 in Lake Placid (and other Adirondack communities).
  • A special flashlight used for the games uses LED technology to highlight the importance of energy sustainability
  • The torch changes color from flaming orange to blue to highlight the importance of water and ice to the Adirondack region

Karlan Jessen is the leader of the FISU World University Games Legacy and Sustainability efforts. She shows us how different this torch is compared to anything university or even world sport has ever seen before.

“The 2023 Lake Placid World University Games torch is unique in every way. It’s the first time there’s been a completely zero-carbon, zero-fossil fuel flashlight for any of these games,” she said.

On January 12, the “flame” of this torch will ignite the cauldron and mark the start of the 2023 World University Games. Then it will turn into something even more important.

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

The almost two-foot long torch actually produces an LED light flame, underscoring the game’s focus on sustainability while limiting its impact on the climate. This is important because everyone here in the Adirondacks knows how important it is to save the winter.

“This is the winter sports capital of the world. We know that to continue this legacy, you must monitor our impact in every way,” added Jessen.

To further this effort, FISU has selected venues both here in Lake Placid and in the surrounding communities to host events since so many of them use hydroelectric power.

The Torch was designed and built by Adirondack Studios in Washington County. It’s the same company that built the podiums for the 1980 Winter Olympics.