Almanack Contributor Christie Sausa

Christie Sausa

Christie Sausa of Lake Placid is a member of the historic figure and speed skating culture in the Olympic Village, and writes about those sports for the Lake Placid News and on Lake Placid Skater which she founded in 2007.

Christie holds degrees in Communications and Sports and Events Management and when not on the ice herself, or writing about what happens there, you can find her helping her mom with their local business, the Lake Placid Skate Shop.

Christie is a also a member of the Skating Club of Lake Placid and the Lake Placid Speed Skating Club.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Lake Placid Figure Skating Championships

Senior Ladies winner Aimee Buchanan (Israel) from Miracle Moment Sports PhotographyThe Annual Lake Placid Figure Skating Championships took place in late June at the Olympic Center, bringing approximately 400 skaters from six countries to Lake Placid. The competition took place in the 1932 and 1980 arenas and was open to the public for a small admission fee, allowing visitors the opportunity to watch the figure skating events live.

This year, there were six countries represented in the competition as a whole, several of which were in the Senior Ladies category alone. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Olympic Museum Speed Skating Exhibit Opens

Visitors to the Quest for Speed exhibit try the Skate to the Beat activityA new permanent exhibit sped into the Lake Placid Olympic Museum on May 23rd that celebrates one of the original Lake Placid winter sports — speed skating.

“Quest for Speed” features various displays explaining the history of the sport and its origins and impact in Lake Placid. Skaters profiled included local Olympic stars Charles Jewtraw and Jack Shea, and of course Wisconsin-native Eric Heiden, who won an unparalleled five gold medals at the 1980 Olympic Games. Museum director Alison Haas interviewed several champions in the sport to research the exhibit, in one case traveling to Salt Lake City to interview Eric Heiden. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

World Figure Championship & Figure Festival Gets Underway

11403452_891404890932228_1300046608197305656_n-2(1)The sport of Figure Skating has changed quite a bit in the past decades. Now, the inaugural World Figure Championship & Figure Festival from August 25-29 in Lake Placid is poised to create a new skating history.

Before 1990, figures were recognized as the essential component of figure skating in both training and competition. Figures are also known as school figures, or colloquially “patch”, to represent the patch of ice each skater was allotted to practice their figures. During practice, skaters would use “scribes”, metal devices that resemble a large protractor, to imprint into the ice the outline of a perfect circle. The skater would then follow the imprint on the ice by tracing the pattern with their blade. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Questions Answered About Black Flies

A-Buckskin-Man-s-Pocket-46To celebrate my 25th birthday a few weeks ago, I went for a trail run in Henry’s Woods in Lake Placid. Unfortunately, I forgot that we were in the midst of a yearly Adirondack tradition — black fly season.

Blissfully unaware, I decided to run while my companion, (my mother) walked. I’m not exactly Usain Bolt, so I kept my pace moderate. I paused a few times to catch my breath, but for the most part I kept moving.

An hour later, we emerged from the woods, and my mother was bleeding. She had been bitten viciously by the black flies. Meanwhile, I had escaped virtually unscathed. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Empire State Games Beginning in Lake Placid

esg-logoThe 2013 Empire State Winter Games kick off today.  A Lake Placid tradition, the games include alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsled, cross country skiing, figure skating, luge, Nordic combined, skeleton, ski jumping, skiercross/boardercross, ski orienteering, slopestyle, snowshoe, long and short track speed skating, women’s ice hockey, and several sports for adaptive competitors.

The Empire State Games were previously organized and sponsored by the State of New York until budget constraints cancelled the games in 2011.  A group of local sponsors, including the Lake Placid Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, and the Village of Lake Placid, stepped forward to host the event themselves.

The Empire State Games start officially at 6 pm today, with Opening Ceremonies that feature the Parade of Athletes and a 2012 highlight video. The keynote speaker this year is 2010 Olympian and 4-time Norton U.S. National Champion, Chris Mazdzer. The Opening Ceremonies are a chance for the athletes to celebrate the beginning of an exciting weekend of competition. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2013 Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships

MysticIce_1After three days of competition, two fireworks displays, and one giant skating party, the Olympic Regional Development Authority and the Skating Club of Lake Placid brought the 2013 Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships to a close. Approximately 2,000 synchronized skaters came to the village of Lake Placid for the competition, and competed at the Olympic Center from January 31st through February 2nd. The Championships were a qualifying event, and the teams who placed move on to the US Synchronized Skating Championships in Plymouth, Michigan from February 27 – March 1. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Empire State Winter Games Begin

For the 32nd year, the Empire State Winter Games, formerly hosted by New York State, will be held in Lake Placid February 2nd through 5th. Organized by the Lake Placid CVB and the Olympic Regional Development Authority, the Games incorporate winter sports including alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, biathlon, figure skating, luge, speed skating, bobsled/skeleton, women’s ice hockey, ski orienteering, and freestyle skiing.

In 2011, the state of New York did not follow through in their commitment to hold the Games due to severe budget cuts. Several local organizations, including ORDA and the Lake Placid CVB, stepped up to finish organization of the event and were able to rescue the Empire State Games from extinction.

This year marks the second year of the Games as a community event, and will feature over 1,000 athletes. The entire region, not just Lake Placid, will be utilized for sporting events.

The Empire State Winter Games start on Thursday. At 6:00 pm, the Opening Ceremonies are held in the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena. This offers the athletes a chance to parade into the arena as a representative of their sport. The Key Note Speaker will be well-known actor and Lake Placid resident James Tolkan, who is best known for his roles in the movies Back to the Future and Top Gun.

After the Opening Ceremonies, the Games are officially open. The competitions will resume at various facilities including Mt Van Hoevenburg, Mt Pisgah, Whiteface and the Olympic Center.

Information about schedules, sports, news, and more can be found online.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Skating: Protopopovs, Dick Button Reunite at Tribute

In 1962, Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov arrived at the World Championships, and were spotted by Dick Button, who was commentating for ABC sports. On Saturday night, the third of September 2011, he sat next to them during the Tribute show in their honor at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.

In an interview before the show, Button recounted what is special about the Protopopovs. “They had tunnel vision”, he said, “They are a vision of classical skating personified, skating at its very best. The Protopopovs started a generation of style on ice, which was carried on by skaters like John Curry and Janet Lynn”.

After that championship in 1962, the Protopopovs skated to two Olympic titles and four world titles. As professionals, they skated in the World Professional championships, (capturing 4 titles) and performing with companies including the Leningrad Ice Ballet and the Ice Capades.

The Protopopovs defected from the Soviet Union in 1979, becoming citizens of Switzerland. They divide their time between Switzerland, their winter home, and Lake Placid, where they skate from June until October in the Olympic Center.

Their eventual landing in Lake Placid was very sudden. In 1997, the Protopopovs found themselves in the Olympic town after being told of the excellent facilities.

“Our friends were telling us, ‘you must go to Lake Placid, they have beautiful ice arenas’”, said Ludmila Protopopov. “We also wanted to learn from Gus Lussi, who was coaching there. Unfortunately, he had passed away, but when we came to Lake Placid we stayed forever”.

Ironically, Button’s story was similar.

“Everyone told my father, if you want him to get better at skating, send him to Lake Placid”, remembers Button. “Gus Lussi was considered the coach to work with, and we had a magical relationship…. I am still tied to Lake Placid, my family owns homes here”.

Watching the older couple skating on the rink, it is not apparent that they played an important part in the evolution of skating. Not many realize that the Protopopovs were the creators of a variation of the death spiral. The death spiral is a skating move, defined as “an element of pair skating performed with the man in a pivot position, one toe anchored in the ice…. holding his hand, the woman circles her partner on a deep edge with her body almost parallel to the ice”. The original death spiral was first executed in the 1940s, but the Protopopovs created their variations, the Cosmic, Life, and Love spirals, in the 1960s.

“It was a mistake on practice…I slipped from an outside edge to an inside edge. That is what we named the Cosmic spiral.

After the Cosmic spiral, (performed on the backward inside edge,) the Protopopovs invented the Life spiral (forward inside) and the Love spiral (forward outside).

Throughout their careers, whether they are competing, performing in shows, or practicing, the Protopopovs possess a unique dignity and class, both on and off the ice. Dick Button, himself a skating legend, has nothing but compliments for the pair.

“The Protopopovs were the first to be very different. They had a classical, pure style of skating; they were musical and uniform in their skating together. They are classic, balletic skaters; utter perfection. You don’t see skaters like them anymore”.

Button certainly knows what he’s talking about; the Emmy award-winning commentator has been involved in skating since the 1940s, when he was competing himself. He became the 1948 and 1952 Olympic champion, and 5 time World champion. His commentary career started in the 1960s, when he provided commentary for ABC sports. He continued to be a celebrity in figure skating, commentating at most major competitions, organizing several skating shows on television, and serving as figure skating’s most knowledgeable figure. Oleg Protopopov, despite his many achievements, still considers Dick Button an inspiration.

“When I was a boy, my mother brought me an American magazine with Dick Button on the cover. He was doing a split jump, and his position was so extended, his toes were pointed…my mother said, ‘one day you must skate better than him’. It never happened’ ”. Dick Button, however, considered them to have surpassed his skating achievements.

“After the Protopopovs skated, I learned what position and quality truly meant in figure skating”.

Both the Protopopovs and Button believed that skating should be an art form, equal to dance, music, and other creative forms of artistic expression. While current audiences seem to expect a sport instead of art, Button and Protopopov assert that attention should be given to the artistic side of the sport as well, not just the technical.

“What I encourage skaters to do is to take what they learned in a ballet class, or other sort of dance class, and incorporate it in skating”, said Button. “Figure skating can take elements of dance and use it…. it is interesting for me to note where figure skating has gone and where it hasn’t gone over the years”.

But the Protopopovs have held up artistry over the years, and continued skating. Even after Oleg’s stroke in 2009, they continued skating. Only a few weeks after his stroke, the Protopopovs were seen at the rink, Ludmila Protopopov patiently helping Oleg to re-learn how to skate. Skating served as his rehabilitation, and the Protopopovs were well practiced enough to perform a short exhibition performance in the tribute show on September 3rd.

Why do they continue skating? Certainly the Protopopovs are legends, and can retire if they chose. When asked why they continue to skate, Ludmila stated it succinctly:

“I love the music, the flow. Skating is our life”.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Skating Legends: A Tribute to the Protopopovs

Lake Placid is a mecca for elite athletes, and often hosts athletes from different countries and sports. Two of these are Olympic legends, and train tirelessly from June until early November in the Olympic Center.

I am referring to the legendary Protopopovs. Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov are the 1964 and 1968 Olympic champions in Pairs Skating for Russia, and call Lake Placid their home.

This year, the Skating Club of Lake Placid is hosting a show in their honor. “A Tribute to the Protopopovs” will take place on Saturday, September 3rd in the 1980 arena. Joining local skaters of all ages and levels will be special guests, such as Dick Button. Himself a Lake Placid figure skating icon (Button trained in Lake Placid with Gus Lussi in the 30s and 40s), Button will be on hand to help celebrate the achievements of the husband and wife pairs team.

Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov’s rise to figure skating prominence was not effortless. The Soviet Skating Association discounted them as “too old” for serious training, even though they were only in their teens. Not to be limited by the Association, the Protopopovs trained independently, often skating outdoors in sub-zero temperatures. Their dedication paid off when they won the 1964 and 1968 Olympic title in Pairs skating, as well as four World Championship titles from 1965-1968.

After the Olympics, they were routinely rejected by the Soviet Skating Associations because of their derivative style. The Leningrad Ice Ballet did not want to give them a job, because they were too athletic, and the skating federation did not want them because they were too artistic. They turned professional, and started touring professionally throughout the United States. The Soviet Skating Federation’s continued ill treatment, however, was constant. For example, they skated in a show at Madison Square Garden for the fee of 10,000 dollars, but all they were allowed to keep was 53 dollars. In 1979, they defected from the Soviet Union and became citizens of Switzerland; this change of citizenship permitted them to tour with the Ice Capades.

The love of their sport is evident, and now in their 70s, the Protopopovs continue training every day. Nothing is able to stop them from participating in their sport; not even a stroke. Oleg Protopopov suffered from a stroke in 2009, but a few weeks after the event started skating again. He is still skating, and has regained his skills. Residents of Lake Placid, it is not uncommon to see the Protopopovs walking or riding their bikes through town, or training on one of the 3 ice surfaces. After November, the Protopopovs travel to Switzerland and Hawaii, skating in Switzerland and surfing in Hawaii. No matter what, the Protopopovs always strive to keep healthy and fit.

The show will be a display of all ages and abilities. Admission is $10.00 for Adults (13-64), $8.00 for Youth (7-12) and Seniors (65+). Children age 6 and under are free. All proceeds benefit the Skating Club of Lake Placid. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bobsled, Skeleton World Championships to Return

Lake Placid will once again be hosting the 2012 FIBT Bobsled/Skeleton World Championships February 13th-26th.

Lake Placid has been a trendsetter in hosting events. They became the first village outside of Europe to host a world championships event in 1949, and the village has staged eight world championship races since then. The most recent Bobsled/Skeleton World Championships was in 2009 when the “Night Train”, led by Steve Holcomb, rocketed to the first US World 4-Man Bobsled title since 1959. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships

The prestigious Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships has long been considered an important pre-season competition for high-level competitive ice dancers. Well known National and Olympic contenders such as Natalie Buck and Trent-Nelson Bond (Australia), Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA), and Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier (Canada) have competed at the championships over the years.

Ice Dancing is a discipline of skating that resembles ballroom dancing on ice. Unlike it’s more acrobatic and singles-skating based cousin pairs skating, ice dance requires the participants to interpret different rhythms and styles of dance, all while executing difficult lifts, spins, and footwork sequences.

Starting in 2002, all the disciplines of skating became more difficult and technical; the International Judging System debuted after the pairs judging scandal in the 2002 Olympics. The International Skating Union decided that the figure skating judging system needed an update; what resulted was a more complex, point-based system. Each element has a set point value, and can gain “upgrades” depending on how well or how poorly the element was executed. The entire judging system is difficult to fully explain, but the result is that figure skating has been propelled into a new age of increased technicality. Ice Dancing was no exception.

New to Ice Dance this year was the addition of a short dance. Previously, ice-dancing competition consisted of three segments: a compulsory dance, an original dance, and a free dance.

The Compulsory dance was the most technical part of competition. Couples skated a set pattern of steps to a set rhythm of music. The skaters were judged on how well they executed the timing, character, and steps of the dance. Compulsories were considered in much the same way the now-extinct figures were; an important technical training tool that helped ice dancers with technique and basic skills of dance.

The Original Dance was a segment in which couples were given a specific rhythm (or set of rhythms) and theme to interpret each season. For example, one season it might be a Waltz; the next it could be a Tango. Skaters were given the freedom to choose their own music within the rhythm and their own choreography. However, there were more rules to adhere to, and close skating and partnering positions were important.

Finally, the Free Dance allows the most creativity of the skaters. They are allowed to choose their own music, choreography, and program themes. Although the skaters have been required to insert certain elements in the free dance since 1998, (step sequences, dance spins, lifts, and spin-like turns called twizzles), they are still allowed a certain degree of freedom. Some skaters aim for more traditional free dances (waltzes, tangoes, etc) while others push the envelope and incorporate such themes as “Star Trek” and “Riverdance” into the segment.

Incorporated after the 2009-2010 season, the short dance aims to combine elements of the compulsory dance and original dance into one segment. Other figure skating disciplines only have two segments, which was one of the considerations put forth to the ISU, and led them to eliminate the compulsory and original dance from competition and insert the short dance instead.

The short dance requires couples to adhere to a pattern (like the compulsory dance) but they must skate to a designated rhythm and perform specific elements.

This year marked the first time the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships include the short dance in competition; the Championships draw International and National skaters.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ironman Lake Placid This Weekend

This weekend, approximately 2,000 competitors will swim, run, and bike through the Adirondack region for the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon. The Lake Placid event is the second oldest race location in the Ironman series, and one of the most popular. Contestants participating will undergo a grueling competition; the triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile run. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Off-Season Workouts of Winter Sports Athletes

As a winter athlete, it is inevitable that even in a town like Lake Placid, which is known for its accessibility to winter sports, there will be an off season. Athletes in all winter sports have an “in season”, where they are competing and training, and an “off season”, when there is less availability to the medium of their sport (snow, ice) and they must train differently.

Athletes approach training differently; however, there are certain methods of off season training which are uniform. Different sports emphasize different qualities; speed, agility, flexibility, or power. Some need more of one quality than others; for example, figure skaters require more flexibility than a speed skater or hockey player, while the focus in the latter sports is on speed and power. Therefore, the training varies from sport to sport.

Figure skaters don’t tend to have a break from skating; most train all year round. What differs is the intensity of training. The off season for skaters is often from late spring until early fall, and this time period is spent developing new programs, building up strength and agility, and using other sports to train for the in-season. Many skaters practice dance, weight-lifting, cardio, stretching, and yoga in both on and off season, but the off season is a good time to practice more extracurricular activities. Figure skaters need agility but also flexibility; as such, their training program emphasizes those qualities. While most lift weights, they also practice plyometrics (which develops quickness and agility) and off ice jumps. Stretching is also an important part of their training routine. It is important to note that many skaters do not run or participate too much in activities that pound on their knees, as they already take a beating in figure skating training. Check out this link for more information about off ice training for figure skating.

Speed skaters require totally different training. The emphasis in the off season is on building strength for the upcoming season. Many don’t realize that speed skaters make their greatest strides from off season training, which incorporates “dryland” training, weight-lifting, and cardio. It is common for a speed skater to practice “low walks”, which is walking with the knees bent at a 90 degree angle to simulate the position achieved in speed skating. Watch this video of Sven Kramer, one of theWorld’s best long track speed skaters training in the off-season. For a glimpse of what it takes to train as an Olympic speed skater during the season, watch Apolo Ohno work out in this video.

Hockey requires speed, power, and agility. The training program off-season reflects this, and many hockey players spend their off-season lifting weights, working on cardiovascular fitness and agility. On ice and off ice training is year round, and the player’s training routine depends on what position they play.

Skiing has a few different sub-sports: alpine, freestyle, Nordic, and ski jumping. All have different emphasis and are very different in not only activity, but how training is approached. Ski jumping, the exciting sport in which the ski jumper flies down the ski jump, launches themselves in the air, and lands, requires precision and control. Explosive power is needed for the takeoff, and the legs must be able to support the force of landing. As such, ski jumpers practice plyometrics, lunges, squats, and stair running workouts.

Athletes who compete in alpine skiing usually train on the snow, but when that isn’t available, train dry land. This can take several forms, including sprints, plyometrics, and weights, all tailored to the common movements in alpine skiing.

Freestyle skiing combines several types of skills and a few types of skiing; aerial, moguls, and ski-cross. Aerials combine skiing and acrobatics, so athletes need to be coordinated and agile. Moguls, where the skier maneuvers around mounds of snow with tight turns, requires quickness and agility. Ski-cross is a discipline in which the skiers take off en-masse and navigate a course. They need to be technically proficient, quick off the start line, and able to maneuver around each other and terrain. Athletes can train with several aids such as trampolines, cross country simulation machines, and in Lake Placid, a pool for athletes to practice aerials into during the summer months. Other than that, skiiers train various ways including cycling, weight lifting, roller-skiing (like cross country skis, except with wheels) and plyometrics.

Nordic skiing athletes are more endurance based skiers whose sport consists of skiing various distances. Their training is similar to the other skiers but with more emphasis on endurance. They might also row, cycle, or in-line in the off season.

Biathlon is a sport which combines cross country skiing with target shooting. Biathlon athletes must combine the endurance and fast paced nature of cross country ski racing with the focused accuracy of target shooting. Arguably the most difficult part of biathlon is calming the mind and body after cross country racing to shoot the target. Racers practice the same type of training as cross country skiers, but also have to practice incredible mental focus.

Luge, the sport requiring athletes to slide down a track on a sled, requires a lot of upper body strength. The takeoff for the luge track is started by using the upper body to gain momentum while on the sled. Therefore, the off ice training often focuses on upper body strength. Mental fitness is also very important.

The sliding sports of skeleton and bobsled share similar components; both require the athlete to get a running start on the track before boarding the sled and navigating the track. The sports have a quick agile component as well as precision in steering the sled. Athletes competing in these sports typically train all year round, even without the benefit of ice on the track. Training methods include sprint workouts, cardio, plyometrics and weight lifting.

For more information on winter Olympic athletes, check out teamusa.org


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Summer Fun for Winter Sports Enthusiasts

Even though the weather might not reflect the shifting seasons, it’s already spring and summer is just around the corner. Winter sports fans and athletes might be wondering what to do in Lake Placid during the summer season; luckily, there are plenty of options available. Here are just a few:

Skate on the historic rinks in the Olympic Center. For the figure skater, there is an 8 week summer camp from June until the end of August. Visit Lake Placid Skating for more information.

Can Am Hockey offers tournaments and camps all summer; check out their website. If you’re interested in public skating, there are sessions available during the summer; visit the ORDA website for details.

Visit the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum in the Olympic Center for a dose of Lake Placid Olympic History. They are open 10 am to 5 pm daily, and admission is 6 dollars for adults and 4 for children and seniors. Call 518-523-1655 for more information.

Bobsled rides are not just for ice, you can take the wheeled version during the summer. Visit the ORDA information page for details.

If you desire an biathlon experience, “Be a Biathlon” sessions are available. Shoot a .22 caliber rifle and test your marksmanship skills on the winter biathlon targets. The experience includes an intro to biathlon rifles and safety as well as two rounds of target shooting. For more information visit their page.

All ages and abilities can try their favorite winter and summer Olympic sports in a safe environment with the Gold Medal Adventures program. Activities include wheel luge, wheel bobsled, and venue tours. Call 518-523-1655 for more information.

Watch figure skating and hockey in the Olympic Center, or get the inside scoop on the venue by taking a tour. Admission is 10 dollars a person. For tour times call 518-523-1655.

See where Olympic athletes live and train while in Lake Placid by visiting the Olympic Training Center. Tours of the facility are available at 3 pm on weekdays. For more information call them at 518-523-2600.

Summer is a great time to visit Lake Placid, many summer versions of winter sports are available, as well as summer sports like golf, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, running, cycling, and more.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Brief History of Figure Skating in Lake Placid

Since the 1920s, the Skating Club of Lake Placid has been an integral part of Lake Placid’s skating culture. The first formal group skating in Lake Placid were the “Sno-Birds”, sponsored by the Lake Placid Club. They organized their own competitions and were the group in charge of assembling the U.S. and Canadian Skating Associations in 1921. The United States Figure Skating Association was formed at this meeting; making the Sno Birds very important in not only Lake Placid’s skating history, but the country’s skating history as well.

According the Skating Club of Lake Placid historian Barbara Kelly, figure skating in Lake Placid really started to develop in the 1930s. The Sno Birds hosted their first indoor competition in 1932 in the new Olympic Arena. This was also when the skating club, then called the “Adirondack Skating Club”, was formed after the Olympics. The board of directors were influential local people, among them the manager of the Olympic Arena Jack Garren and Chairman of the North Elba Park Commission Rollie J. Kennedy. In 1937 the name was changed to the “Skating Club of Lake Placid”.

The “Golden Age” of skating continued through the 40s, when skaters flocked to Lake Placid to train in the summers with the best coaches in the world. This provided them the opportunity to skate in the two spectacular summer ice shows, some of the most elaborate shows in the country. At this time, well-known skaters such as Dick Button trained with equally famous coaches like Gus Lussi.

Through the 50s , 60s, and 70s, the figure skating program continued to attract talented and well known skaters. Some notables included Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Ronnie Robertson, Tab Hunter, and Evelyn Mueller Kramer. Fleming and Hamill were the 1968 and 1976 Olympic Gold Medalists in Ladies Figure Skating, respectively. Ronnie Robertson was the 1956 Olympic Silver Medalist in Men’s Figure Skating, and was best known for his amazing spinning ability. Coached by Gus Lussi, Robertson’s incredibly fast spins were tested by the American Space Program to determine how to achieve balance in a weightless environment; they were baffled by his lack of dizziness after spinning. Tab Hunter was a movie star and recording artist best known for his good looks and roles in movies such as “Damn Yankees”. Hunter was a figure skater as a teenager, competing in both singles and pairs; he was another of Gus Lussi’s famous students. Evelyn Mueller Kramer trained alongside Ronnie Robertson and Tab Hunter, and is currently a well-known skating coach.

In 1979 the first Skate America competition, now a part of the annual Grand Prix series, was held in Lake Placid. It was considered a “test event” for the 1980 Olympics, and was obviously a success, since the competition was also there in 1981 (the competition was not held in 1980). Since then, Lake Placid has continued to host several important figure skating events. Most recently Lake Placid hosted the 2011 Eastern Synchronized Skating Championships, which determined the synchronized skating teams that qualified for Nationals. Previously, Skate America returned in 2009, along with Regional and Sectional Qualifiers, the annual Lake Placid Free Skating Championships and Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships.
Ice shows such as Smuckers Stars on Ice and Disney on Ice return annually and
biannually respectively.

Summer skating continues every year, bringing skaters from all over the world to train with a variety of coaches. Celebrity skaters train here as well; the most well known are Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov, 1964 and 1968 Olympic Gold Medalists in Pairs Skating. Part time residents of Lake Placid, they train here every summer and can often be spotted practicing on one of the rinks (see photo above).

The Saturday Night Ice Shows have also continued. Skaters taking part in the summer skating camp have the opportunity to skate alongside “guest” skaters who are National and World caliber. The shows are weekly instead of just twice in the summer, allowing for more skaters and more memorable performances under the spotlights in the 1932 Arena. Notable guest skaters have included Johnny Weir, Ryan Bradley, Kimmie Meissner, and Rachel Flatt, as well as many others.

For more information on the figure skating program, visit the Lake Placid Skating site. For more information on the Skating Club of Lake Placid, visit their website.


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