The world was watching. TV cameras were trained on every athlete’s every move. The racing and high-flying acrobatics of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games at Gore Mountain did not disappoint. Spectators around the world were in awe.

Yet there were also many masterful performances being turned in day after day with no one watching. Before, during, and even after it all, without fanfare or medal ceremonies, the team at Gore Mountain made it all happen behind the scenes.

A Gore Mountain employee in an orange coat poses outside the base lodge during the FISU Games.

Talent and hard work are obvious when, for example, a big air athlete delivers an epic trick in competition. Or a ski cross competitor surges past rivals and flies across the finish line to raise their arms in triumph. We saw all of that and more at the FISU Games at Gore Mountain.

Yet, something vital went unnoticed – the skill and drive and collective, cooperative work of all those who made these moments possible. The snowmakers up on the mountain at all hours. The groomers who carved piles of snow into world-class racecourses. The behind-the-scenes operations team who planned and managed the 28 international events at Gore. And the others, doers all of them, who made every experience of every athlete and spectator something they’ll remember forever.

Two food service team staff members in black tops face the camera side by side, smiling during the FISU Games.

In the athletes’ performances at these FISU Games, we clearly witnessed rising greatness. They demonstrated to audiences around the world – live on ESPN – what the human spirit is capable of given the right opportunity. If, however, we turned the cameras to look where no one was looking, we’d have seen the equivalent carried out backstage. People with humility, braving the winter elements, pulling out unseen and unnoticed performances, so others could soar high when the cameras were rolling.

What the hardworking team at Gore made possible:

Ski & Snowboard Cross – Athletes combine Alpine and Freestyle skills in timed head-to-head races. The course incorporates jumps and high-banked turns.

Slopestyle Freeski and Snowboard – Competitors hit a variety of jibs, jumps, and rails and perform backflips or other astonishing acrobatic tricks. Harder tricks earn more points for originality, amplitude, and execution.

Big Air – Epic tricks like multiple flips and big air over 100 feet wow fans of this event. Competitors get two runs to showcase their best tricks and qualify for the finals.

Snowboard Parallel Slaloms – Riders race down two evenly spaced courses through sets of gates that force extremely tight and quick turns or wide-sweeping turns through more spaced-out Giant Slalom gates.

Three FISU Games volunteers stand together in their event gear outside the Gore Mountain base lodge. Images of these events beamed across the globe by ESPN, showing enthusiastic crowds and our stunning Adirondack winter landscape as well as medal ceremonies and flags raised in honor of each finalist’s home country.

Hardworking Gore crews also organized SunDeck Parties every day of the Games with festive lineups for spectators, skiers, riders, food, prizes, live DJs, and more.

People behind the scenes, where so much hard work happens, so often go unnoticed. The flawless stage on which the athletes perform is made possible through the struggle and toil of regular folks showing up in ways just as big as the athletes themselves. The highlight real doesn’t include these faces, or quotes, or their work. Required to achieve the lifelong dreams of these athletes was, of course, their own hard work. As well as that of the good people at Gore.