PH collegiate athletes compete in FISU Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, NY

by Ricky Rillera

FISU Winter World University Games Parade of Nations | Screengrab via FISU TV

NEW YORK – Four collegiate athletes will be representing the Philippines to compete in the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games from January 12 to 22, 2023, in Lake Placid, New York. The 11-day event is “the most extensive winter multi-sport collegiate athletic event in the world. It features international festivals and sports competitions with educational and cultural events, all taking place in Lake Placid and nearby towns.

Brandon Garcia Leitner | Photo Courtesy of FISU

Brandon Garcia Leitner, 20, of Colby-Sawyer College, New London, New Hampshire, and Theodore Jacob Acuna Sunshine, 18, of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusettes, will vie for the Alpine Competition, which will be held at the Whiteface Mountain, host of Alpine for the 1980 Winter Olympics. Both athletes will participate in the Men’s Giant Slalom and Men’s Slalom.

Leitner is a member of the Colby-Sawyer Athletic’s men’s alpine skiing roster and the Philippine Ski and Snowboard Federation. He competed internationally in downhill, slalom, giant slalom, and super G.

Theodore Jacob Acuna Sunshine | Photo courtesy of FISU

Julian Kyle Macaraeg, 19, born in New York City and representing UCLA, will join the Short Track Speed Skating. He leads the 4-person athlete delegation. He was one of two Filipino athletes selected to attend the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics and became the First Filipino short-track speed skater to compete at the Youth Olympics.

The lone woman delegate, 24-year-old Mikayla Shalom Fabian from Miriam College, Quezon City, will perform in Figure Skating on Saturday, January 14, against 34 entries from 27 countries. The top 24 skaters qualify for Free Skating.

Julian Kyle Macaraeg | Photo via Philippine Sports

According to PH Sports, she will perform an original choreography with mesh-up Original Pilipino Music (OPM) featuring choral and rap versions of Ili-ili Tulog Anay and Carinosa. Celene Garcia, a Manila–based young Filipino designer, in collaboration with Fabian, created a modern Filipiniana ice skating couture using the colors of the Philippine flag, accented by an alampay with an alibata inscription of “Pilipinas” and stylized butterfly sleeves.

Fabian’s entry in the Winter Universiade in 2019, held at Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia, paved the way for the Philippines’ regular slot in the FISU World University Games. She represented the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP) and Ateneo de Manila in the Philippines’ first participation in FISU. Fifty-eight countries, including first-timers Philippines and United Arab Emirates, sent 3,000 student-athletes to compete for 76 medals in 11 winter sports.

Mikayla Fabian | Facebook

This year, there are 1,443 collegiate athletes from more than 540 universities in 46 countries to compete in 83 medal events in 12 sports – alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, Nordic combined, short track speed skating, ski jumping, snowboard, and speed skating – that will take place in venues spread throughout the New York’s North Country, including Lake Place, Saranac Lake.

The Games kicked off on Thursday night, January 12, with a welcome ceremony by the Oneida Indian Nation and Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, followed by a parade of nations that started with Argentina and their three-person delegation. All 46 participating nations were represented.

FESSAP, the national university sports federation (NUSF) in the Philippines recognized by the Switzerland–based International University Sports Federation (FISU), put together the PH delegation. FESSAP’s subsidiary, the FWSSC (FESSAP Winter Ski & Skating Committee), spearheaded the student athletes’ recruitment campaign through its chair Dodjie Fabian and co-chair, Robert Milton Calo.

The 2023 delegation includes FESSAP President Edwin C. Fabro and the Philippines’ Head of Delegation, Graham C. Lim.

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