The season will commence with World Cup luge. After a one-year absence, the world’s top sliders return to the two-time Winter Olympic village Nov. 15-18 at the Olympic Sports Complex. A brand new men’s luge start, to be constructed this summer at the track on Mt. Van Hoevenberg, will be employed for the first time in a major event. Under the banner of the International Luge Federation, races in men’s and women’s singles, doubles and the team event are on the Lake Placid slate.
One week later, Olympic gold medalist and skating legend Scott Hamilton will bring Smucker’s Stars on Ice back to the Olympic Center for the national debut of his 2007-08 tour. It will take place Saturday, Nov. 24, in the 1980 Rink Herb Brooks Arena.
The International Federation for Bobsleigh and Tobogganing has a World Cup bobsled and skeleton event on the Lake Placid course from Dec. 10-16. Men and women will compete in a total of five events down the mile-long, 20 turn chute of ice.
Athletes in these sports will continue to enjoy ORDA’s continuing efforts to protect the course from inclement weather as roofing will be added to more curves during the off-season.
In January, the scene changes to Whiteface and the Olympic Jumping Complex for three freestyle skiing events scheduled for Jan. 18-20. The International Ski Federation as well as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association will conduct World Cup moguls on the Wilderness trail at Whiteface Jan. 18 and 20, while aerial skiing will occur on Jan. 19 at the jumping site in Lake Placid.
Whiteface skiers and riders will be counting down the days to the mountain’s 50th birthday celebration, officially on Jan. 28. But in reality, the party will last for weeks. It begins Jan. 25 and continues with theme weekends until March 8-9.
The Junior Luge World Championships will be contested back at Mt. Van Hoevenberg from Feb. 4-10 as the future stars of this exciting sport negotiate Lake Placid’s difficult track.
February also brings the annual Empire State Winter Games, where New Yorkers compete on the same 1980 Winter Olympic sites. Over 1,000 athletes will converge on the community Feb. 22-24.
March, in many years the best month of winter, maintains the pace with World Cup snowboarding at Whiteface March 1 and 3. The schedule brings snowboardcross to the Boreen trail on Saturday, while parallel giant slalom returns on Monday along Draper’s Drop.
The North American Series Alpine Skiing Finals will be held at Whiteface March 12-16, featuring up-and-coming skiers from the U.S., Canada and abroad.
The final major event is on tap March 22-23 when the 1980 Rink Herb Brooks Arena hosts the NCAA Men’s Div. III Ice Hockey Championships.
In addition to these headline events, during the 2007-08 season, ORDA will present:
• Continental Cup women’s ski jumping Aug. 29-30
• International Skating Union Junior Grand Prix Skating Aug. 30-Sept. 2
• Flaming Leaves Festival Ski Jumping Oct. 6-7
• Masters 90 Meter Ski Jump Dec. 29
• NY Ski Educational Foundation 120 Meter Ski Jump Dec. 30
• U.S. National Bobsled Championships Dec. 30-Jan. 6
• ISI Figure Skating Competition Jan. 17-19
• Continental Cup Skeleton Races Jan. 22-28
• Lake Placid Loppet Citizens Cross Country Ski Race Feb. 9
• Harlem Globetrotters Feb. 19
• New York State High School Alpine Skiing Championships Feb. 26-27
• Masters Alpine Skiing Regional Championships March 6-9
• International Bobsled and Skeleton Drivers School March 16-29
• Adult National Figure Skating Championships April 8-13
If it wasn’t painfully obvious before, weather for this early January week that stretched into the sunny 60’s at some Adirondack locations should serve as a reminder that global warming is going to have serious impacts on the Adirondack region. Unfortunately, few here in the mountains seem to understand the gravity of the situation for our local economies.
Our friends working at Gore Mountain Ski Resort have been hardly working at all and consequently spending a lot less on dinners out, winter gear, and even beer and other important winter supplies. The few trails open on Gore are so crowded (with even the small crowd that’s there) that the die-hards refuse to make runs for fear of being run-over. Whiteface in Lake Placid has been forced to cancel its annual World Cup Freestyle competition (now being held at Deer Valley, Utah) and has virtually no beginner trails open.
Meanwhile, two of the largest developments in Adirondack history are expected to be rammed through the Adirondack Park Agency by pro-development George Pataki appointees. The most bizarre part of these projects is that they, believe it or not, have relied on development of two area ski resorts to appease locals and persuade some that the good they’ll provide for the local economy by way of skiing will outweigh the damage to the park.
[Tupper Lake project] developer Michael Foxman’s mega-vision to create the high-end Adirondack Club and Resort, which would include 700 expensive units on 6,400 acres, much of it in back country, has been highly controversial since it was proposed three years ago. Part of the plan, a sop to the locals, is reopening Big Tupper Ski Center as an economic engine.
In North Creek (Warren County), local politicos and real estate agents are pushing (with the help of newly appointed APA member, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chair, and Johnsburg Town Supervisor Bill Thomas) a project called – get this – Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain that would include exclusive trailside housing, an equestrian facility, retail shops and restaurants, a major hotel, two smaller inns, a spa, a private ski lodge, and a 9-hole golf course, on 430 acres, some of which on what was a town-owned park and before that the historic North Creek Ski Bowl where downhill skiing an early start in New York State.
Folks – skiing in the Adirondacks in the future will be all but dead. If there hasn’t been a proper ski season for Adirondack resorts in at least four years, and the experts agree that the coming year will be the warmest on record (again), it’s time to see the forest for the trees – no project tied to the ski season has a hope of being successful on that basis in the long run.
In the Northeast, the climate may be changing even more rapidly, particularly in winter. Compared to 1970, there are now 15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground in the Northeast, one study found. Some regional models also show an increase in average temperatures of 1.4 degrees over 102 years, but a spike of 2 to 4 degrees over the past 30 years.
“Climate has always been changing, so we can’t talk about climate change as something new,” said Art DeGaetano, director of the Northeast Climate Data Center at Cornell University. “Clearly, the temperatures we’re seeing today … are much warmer than we’ve seen for the last 1,000 years. Clearly, there’s warming almost everywhere.
“Climate change is upon us,” he said. “Climate is going to warm, so we do have to act and we do have to prepare.”
If there are any segments of the Adirondack economy that you can count on to take a nose dive in the next 20 years it’s winter sports. It doesn’t take a genius to understand “15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground” means that investing hundreds of millions in Adirondack skiing and snowmobiling industries is not a good idea. Despite the ignorant claim by Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center that there is “No cause for alarm. Enjoy it while you have it,” you might also forget large investments in ice fishing shanties and winter carnival concessions in case you needed to be told.
So why – oh please tell us why – are state and local governments spending so much money on these debacles?
The [Tupper Lake] developer is calling for the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency to come up with $50 million to $60 million for infrastructure costs. In essence, that would require the county taxpayers to guarantee the bonds for his private venture. That is a stupefying request. Even more mind-boggling is that there are those in the town and county who are ready to go along with the developer.
And add a dose of misguided Republican cronyism:
Gov. George Pataki, down to his final weeks in office, announced plans Friday for a $7 million expansion of the state-run Gore Mountain Ski Center that will enable the Johnsburg attraction to boast having the eighth-largest vertical drop in the eastern United States.
The state will spend an additional $3 million to complete the railroad line connection between [Republican] Saratoga Springs and [Republican] North Creek.
Skiers from Saratoga Springs, as well as the Albany and New York City areas, will be able to take the train to North Creek and leave their personal vehicles at home, Pataki said.
“You’re not going to have the traffic; you’re not going to have the pollution, and you’re not going to have the congestion. But you are going to have the economic growth,” he said during a press conference at the North Creek train station.
Bill “Snow Is All We Have” Thomas:
When completed, skiers from New York City and elsewhere could take a train up to North Creek, delivered within a half-mile of the ski bowl area, Thomas said. “It’s very important to tourism in Johnsburg,” Thomas said of the resort plans. “I see it as a big catalyst for Main Street businesses.”
“Gore Mountain is a tremendous asset for the state and for our region. All of us here today share the desire and realize the importance of making an already great skiing experience at Gore Mountain even better. That requires sizable investments by New York State.”
Ahhh… Betty… New York State doesn’t make “sizable investments,” the people of New York State do.
Since 1995, the state has poured $70 million into the Olympic Regional Development Authority. If we assume about 100,000 year-round residents, that’s $700 per person! And that doesn’t count state and local tax discounts, increased costs of services for local communities serving ski resorts, the higher costs of goods and services priced for the tourist market, county funds (like the Tupper Lake 50 or 60 million), and who knows what else. According to NCPR, “This year, Lake Placid’s sports and tourism venues received more than $40 million in state subsidies. That’s roughly $15 thousand for every man, woman and child living inside the village limits.”
Developers, local politicians, ill-informing media – go outside! See, that there is no snow, and not likely to be regular snow at anything near historic levels in our lifetimes. Stop pushing fantasies that hide your real motive – unlimited development of the last great wilderness area east of the Rockies.
And while we’re at it – we received an e-mail from Bill McKibben today announcing a “a day of demonstrations for April 14” – a great idea (info at Stepitup2007.org).
It’s going to be an unusual day. People will be rallying in many of America’s most iconic places: on the levees in New Orleans, on top of the melting ice sheets on Mt. Hood and in Glacier National Park, even underwater on the endangered coral reefs off Key West and Hawaii. But we need hundreds of rallies outside churches, and in city parks, and in rural fields. It’s not a huge task — assemble as many folks as possible, hoist a banner, take a picture. We’ll link pictures of the protests together electronically via the web—before the day is out, we’ll have a cascade of images to show both local and national media that Americans don’t consider this a secondary issue. That instead they want serious action now.
If you are planning to organize an event, please let us know – we’ll list events as they’re organized – wouldn’t events at local closed ski resorts be something?
UPDATE: Pam Mandrel, over at BlogHer, has linked to this post and included some other posts about global warming’s impact on the American ski industry. Thanks Pam for a great follow-up.
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