Posts Tagged ‘Lake Placid’

Monday, February 15, 2010

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Online

On Friday, February 12th the Winter Olympic Games started in Vancouver, Canada. The day after, in Lake Placid, the Olympic Torch was lit to commemorate the 1980 Olympics that took place there 30 years ago. At the Vancouver Games, there are several athletes representing Lake Placid and the Adirondack region, including Bill Demong, Andrew Weibrecht, Peter Frenette, and more. Luckily, for the casual fan, there are many ways to keep in touch with what is happening with your favorite athletes.

One of the latest crazes in technology is the 140-character phenomenon known as Twitter. Many celebrities and businesses, in addition to everyday folks, use the web service to update what is happening in their lives. Now Olympic athletes use the Twitter service as well to keep us in the loop during the Games- for a list of the athletes who are “Tweeting”, check out this list.

Olympic fans can also follow the action at the Olympics at the following sites: Team USA News; NBC Olympic site; Vancouver 2010 site; and Google Maps. Team USA news is a site that allows fans to receive updates on the team, as well as donate and promote the Olympics through social media sites. Both NBC Olympics and the Vancouver 201o site offer news, photos, and videos from the Games. Google maps, which is known more for finding street addresses all over the globe, take it one step further for the Olympics by providing a glimpse of the Olympic venues.

Enjoy the Games and Go Team USA!!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Biathlon

With the amount of local talent being sent to the Vancouver Olympics this weekend, I feel it is only fair to make sure my children get as much Olympic exposure as possible. Since Lake Placid has generously hosted the Olympics twice, it is no hardship for anyone entering the Park to get on their Olympic Spirit.

For those wishing to achieve a bit of instant gratification, on February 12-13 the Lake Placid Biathlon Club with the Saratoga, Syracuse, and Western NY Biathlon Clubs is hosting the North American Championship Cup 5 (NorAM) in cooperation with the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).

According to Rick Costanza, President for the Lake Placid Biathlon Club, there will be about 50-75 competitors this weekend in a variety of events.

The NorAM’s will be a good introduction to the sport and observers are encouraged. Costanza advises observers to pull into the Bobsled Parking lot of the Olympic Sports Complex and it is just a short walk to the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Biathlon Range. Races will begin at 10:00 a.m. The 1st day (Feb 12) is a Sprint (10K) and a Pursuit format on the 13th.

“Most people like to watch the shooting. There is a nice sloping hill where people can observe the shooting range,” Costanza says. “One thing we drill into the kids is safety. Biathlon is challenging. The skiing is aggressive and then you have to switch gears to marksmanship. The shooting is more Zen. This sport is one of the best uses of firearms we have. It teaches kids a lot of good habits in a strict environment.”

For those that wish to observe the sport from the comfort of their own home, Lowell Bailey and Haley Johnson of Lake Placid and Tim Burke of Paul Smiths are part of the US Biathlon National Team and 2010 US Olympic Team. These local competitors are blogging and writing about their Olympic experiences. It is certainly an amazing opportunity for any young adult or child to realize that dreams can come true.

The Vancouver Olympic Biathlon roster will consist of the following: Men’s 7.5K Relay, the Women’s 6K Relay, Men’s 10K Sprint, Women’s 7.5K Sprint, Men’s 12.5K Pursuit, Women’s 10K Pursuit, Men’s 15K Mass Start, Women’s 12.5K Mass Start, Men’s 20K Individual, and the Women’s 15K Individual.

According to the Olympic Biathlon Organization, Biathlon is said to be of Greek origin meaning “two contests” combining the endurance of long distance skiing and control of sharp shooting.

It originated with hunters as a means of providing food during long skiing expeditions. Gradually the sport became an alternative means of military training for Scandinavian border patrol. The first competition took place in Norway around 1776. Since then it has become the modern day demonstration sport of cross-country skiing and precision target shooting.

A biathlon is divided into both standing and prone target shooting positions. Each participant must ski a specific distance, shoot from the shooting lanes and then continue skiing. Throughout all, the athlete is required to carry a rifle in a sling. Typically five targets are required during each stop. 100% accuracy is required. Either a time penalty or penalty loop is given for each target missed.

The Sprint is a timed event skied over three laps with the athlete shooting twice at any shooting lane, once prone and once standing for a total of 10 shots. In the Pursuit the starts are staggered and based on a previous race so the individual crossing the finish line first wins. The Relay consists four athletes skiing one leg of three laps with two shooting rounds. The Individual is another timed event usually skied over five laps with the athlete shooting four times with penalties given for each missed target.

If just observing Biathlon isn’t enough, ORDA offers individuals the opportunity to become a biathlete at the Olympic Sports Complex with a freestyle skiing lesson and (under strict supervision) take a shot (I couldn’t let that pass) at the target range. This particular exercise is available most Saturdays and holiday weeks at a cost of $33.00.

photo used with permission from Marque Moffett.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lake Placid to Celebrate 1980 Games With Events

If you can’t make to the Olympic Games in Vancouver, Lake Placid will be hosting a 30th anniversary celebration of the 1980 XIII Olympic Winter Games February 12th to 28th. The event will feature a competition in which families will go head to head in alpine skiing/snowboarding, biathlon target shooting, bobsled, curling, hockey skills, and speedskating. The inaugural Gold Medal Games Family Edition will also feature a torch run, opening ceremonies, and medals and awards. Sporting events will be held in the same venues that were used during the 1980 winter games when the U.S. hockey team stunned the world winning by beating the Soviet Union and Eric Heiden won five Olympic speedskating gold medals.

“That was an incredible moment in history, not only for Lake Placid, but for the entire country,” noted Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer. “Those Games will forever be remembered for overcoming the impossible, whether, it’s a small Upstate New York village hosting the world’s largest sporting event, or the U.S. hockey team defeating the heavily favored former-Soviet Union on their way to gold. And who can forget what Eric accomplished in speedskating or what Phil Mahre did in the alpine events. Moments and memories like these only come around once in a lifetime.”

Here is more from the press release announcing the events:

The 1980 torch will be re-lit on Saturday, Feb. 13. On Sunday, Feb. 14, visitors can embrace the greatest moment in American sports history with an opportunity to watch Disney’s “Miracle” in the 1980 Olympic arena, the same arena where the U.S. Olympic hockey team stunned the former-Soviet Union before beating Finland on their way to the gold medal. The movie, starring Kurt Russell as the legendary U.S. team coach Herb Brooks, begins at 8:30 p.m., preceded by the debut of “Small Town, Big Dreams,” at 7 p.m. Other Olympic themed movies will be shown throughout the two-week celebration in the Olympic Museum.

Additional activities will include a viewing of the NHL’s Stanley Cup, also in the Olympic Museum, Sunday, Feb. 14, toboggan races, fireworks and family style celebrations on Mirror Lake.

For more information on the 30th Anniversary of the Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games, visit www.whitefacelakeplacid.com/family.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Good Curling

Curling is a game rooted in history. The name refers to the rotation the game piece or “stone” takes as it spirals along the ice. The “rock” will curve (curl) depending on the direction the rock spins.

Traced back to 16th century Scotland, the game called Curling was brought to North American 200 years later by Scottish soldiers. It is commonly referred to as “chess on ice” due to the subtle finesse and strategy required of its players.

According to Historic Saranac Lake curling got an early start in the Tri-Lakes when the Pontiac Bay and Pines Curling Clubs was formed around 1897. These two clubs later combined to form the Saranac Lake Curling Club.

During its heyday the Saranac Lake Curling Club held numerous competitions on the national and international level. Curling made its first Olympic appearance in Chamonix and was a demonstration sport during the 1932, 1936, 1964, 1988 and 1992 Olympics. It wasn’t until the 1998 Nagano games that curling became an official Olympic sport.

In 1943, due to wartime economic reasons curling waned in popularity and the Saranac Lake Curling Club closed. It wasn’t until Ed and Barbara Brandt came to Lake Placid in 1981 and started the Lake Placid Curling Club that the Adirondack tradition was resurrected. Over twenty-five years later, the Lake Placid Curling Club is going strong and continues to grow and promote the sport.

On Saturday, February 6, the Lake Placid Curling Club will present a demonstration during the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival on Lake Flower, near the original site of the 18th century Pontiac Curling Club. A bagpiper will escort the players from the Saranac Lake Free Library to the state boat launch on Lake Flower. Game play is at 11:00 a.m.

According to Amber McKernan, membership secretary for the Lake Placid Curling Club (LPCC) the sport is not only competitive but also social. “We travel to other curling clubs and are always interested in new members. We had a very successful Learn to Curl event in the fall. We recently welcomed two young members, both teenagers, to the club,” she says. The LPCC curls on Sunday evenings at the USA Rink of the Olympic Center.

For those not in the know: skip is not a person’s name, but the captain of the team. The skip is the only team member allowed in the house (the circular scoring area with a bull’s eye center) so he/she can direct the stone’s delivery. One doesn’t throw the stone but deliveries it to the house. A team is known as a rink and consists of four players: lead, second, vice-skip, and skip. A game usually consists of eight ends (similar to an inning in baseball.) The end is completed when all the stones have been delivered to one end. A competitor curls the stone by causing the stone to curve strategically toward the scoring area and gets the closest to the center of the circle. Only one team (rink) can score per end. One point is awarded for each stone closer to the center than the opponent’s.

What was traditionally a smooth rock is now a polished circular-shaped granite “stone” that meets the requirements of the World Curling Federation. Weighing in at 42 pounds, each stone’s path is steered by players sweeping a path in front, reducing the friction and increasing the stone’s peed.

Similar to golf, another Scottish game, curling has as many rules on etiquette as it does on play. For example each bonspiel (tournament) starts and ends with a handshake wishing the opposing team “good curling.”

So whether you choose to watch curling from the comfort of your own home, at the Vancouver Olympics or watch a demonstration of a local club, enjoy a sport formed of good sportsmanship, skill and tradition.

photo of the Lake Placid Curling Club on Lake Flower used with permission of www.adkfamilytime.com


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2010 Lake Placid Ironman Seeks Volunteers

The 2010 Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon is seeking volunteers for the July 25, 2010 race. About 2,000 athletes and nearly 4,000 volunteers take part in what organizers say is Placid’s largest one-day annual event, generating “a direct economic impact of about $8 million for Essex County.” “In addition to the days surrounding the actual race,” a recent press release extolled, “a large number of the participants make multiple pre-race visits in preparation for the event, greatly enhancing the overall revenue generated.” Kathy Pfohl, volunteer director, says that two-thirds of the volunteers are from outside the region.

There is a tiered management system in place in order to organize the large numbers of volunteers. As volunteer director, Pfohl is responsible for overseeing the entire volunteer effort (as part of her job at the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism or ROOST). There are approximately 80 captains who manage their respective “team” of volunteers, which can number from one to 200 individuals. Each captain is responsible for the coordination of the schedules, locations and communication with their team of volunteers, to ensure that they are in their places on race day.

For 2010, there are several captain positions open. “Captains enjoy a number of perks, including the opportunity to earn a monetary donation of $750 for their qualifying group from the Community Fund,” according to the press release.

Those interested in a captain’s position and/or the Community Fund should contact Kathy Pfohl at [email protected] or at the ROOST office at 523.2445 x110. Online registration for all volunteer positions is located at www.ironmanlakeplacid.com.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Can Am Pond Hockey Tournament in Lake Placid

Despite frigid temperatures this weekend, adult hockey players took to the ice in Lake Placid for the Can Am pond hockey tournament. Can Am pond hockey is a relatively new tradition in Lake Placid, introduced in 2005 to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of the 1980 Winter Games. Five years later the tournament is still going strong and teams from all over the US and Canada flocked to the Adirondacks to participate in a weekend of hockey and fun in the Olympic Village. With the age categories 21+, 30+, 40+, 50+, and 60+ for men, and 21+ and 30+ for women, there was an opportunity for almost all ages to compete.

Pond hockey is a simpler variation of ice hockey. Obviously meant to be played on natural ice surfaces, pond hockey differs from traditional ice hockey. The ice dimensions are different from NHL hockey regulations, (135 feet by 65 feet compared to the NHL’s 200-by-85), there are no boards and no lines on the playing surface. While the rules might seem less-structured in a game of pond hockey, there are still limits; for example, no slap shots, abusive language, or overly aggressive physical contact.

One of the most unique challenges is weather.; when the weather is too warm, for example, skating can be dangerous on a pond, often pushing the teams onto the alternate venue. In 2008, temperatures in the 40s forced the tournament to relocate to the Olympic Oval. At the extreme opposite of the spectrum, cold weather can be difficult as well. This weekend, the temperatures on Saturday were in the negative double digits in the morning, and in the single digits all afternoon.

For more information on pond hockey in Lake Placid, visit the Can Am website at http://www.canamhockey.com/index.php.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adirondacks Well Represented at Vancouver Olympics

Yesterday Andrew Weibrecht became the latest of a pack of Adirondackers named to the U.S. Olympic Team. It was really just a formality. Of course Andrew would make the alpine ski squad. He’s fearless, he’s dedicated and he’s got no brakes.

It’s still huge to see his name on the list. He’s a great guy and makes us proud. It’s hard to explain why people who have nothing to do with these kids’ success can feel that way, but in a small town you just do. Six athletes who have grown up in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are going to the 2010 games in Vancouver, and so are three who moved here at a young age, as are some luge veterans who’ve lived in Lake Placid so long it’s home.

In a region of .00004 percent of the national population that is sending 4 percent of our Olympic team, the degrees of separation are considerably foreshortened. These inspiring young men and women are neighbors and friends. Or we know their moms or dads, or see them skiing at Avalanche Lake, or listen to them play mandolin in the bandshell. We may have taught them history, drank their homemade cider or been next door when one of them (whom we will call “War Horse”) broke his leg in some sort of homemade man-size slingshot.

We thought Andrew would be the last of the Adirondack contenders to be named, but 16-year-old Ashley Caldwell also made the Olympic cut yesterday; she will compete in aerials for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. She moved to Lake Placid three years ago to pursue her sport, and we’ll cheer just as loudly for her.

Even athletes who train or compete in Lake Placid gain a local following. My friend’s daughter will be rooting for the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team, several of whose members coached her at hockey camp last summer. The ladies also have fans at Lisa G’s.

Saranac Lake is sometimes obscured by Lake Placid’s 1932 and 1980 Olympian shadow, but it too has been known to send bobsledders, skaters, skiers and hockey players to world competition. This year four Saranac Lakers are heading to the winter Olympics: 21-year-old luger Chris Mazdzer, 17-year-old ski jumper Peter Frenette, 27-year-old Tim Burke of Paul Smiths (Biathlon) and 29-year-old Billy Demong of Vermontville (Nordic Combined). Tupper Lake also takes pride in Peter Frenette, who has many relatives there and who debuted on skis at age 2 at Big Tupper. We in Saranac Lake claim kinship with Billy and Tim because they attended and skied for Saranac Lake High School, plus they got early lessons here, at Dewey Mountain Recreation Area.

I love the fact that luger Mark Grimette is 39 and his silver-medal doubles partner Brian Martin is 36 and they still have wheels (wrong metaphor, but they are serious competitors). Vancouver will be their fourth Olympics.

My other favorite Olympic friendship story is that of Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid (Biathlon) and Tim and Billy (pictured). These three have skied together since they were little, and the love of their sport has taken them around the world. Haley Johnson of Lake Placid (Biathlon) joined that pack when she began traveling with Lowell and Tim in high school.

Kris Cheney Seymour runs the Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League in Saranac Lake and is a top-notch skier and coach. He grew up in Saranac Lake and has long known Billy, Tim, Lowell and Haley as a coach and friend. He is one of many coaches, mentors and sports-support staff around here who have a greater claim on community pride. When people joke that Dewey should be called “the Other Olympic Mountain” for its early role in so many good skiers’ lives, Kris says there’s something to it. Once, after a particularly steep hill on the World Cup circuit in Europe, Tim e-mailed Kris and commented that Dewey prepared him well.

We might take it for granted that so many kids here skate, ski and slide. But as Kris often points out, these sports can change lives. Not only are they fun, apparently they can take you places. Even if they don’t take you to the Olympics, plenty of locals have gone to college on their sport and competed against some of the best athletes in the world.

So, go Andrew! Go Billy, Lowell, Tim, Haley, Peter, Chris, Ashley, Mark, Brian, Bengt Walden (luge), John Napier (bobsled) and Erin Hamlin (luge)! And you too, speed skater Trevor Marsicano of Ballston Spa and Plattsburgh native Anders Johnson, who trained at Lake Placid’s speedskating and ski jumping facilities! And go U.S. women’s hockey team! Have a great time in Vancouver.

Photograph of (l to r) Lowell Bailey, Billy Demong and Tim Burke as young skiers, courtesy of the Demong family


Monday, January 25, 2010

Freestyle Skiing: Nature Valley Freestyle Cup

This past week, Lake Placid once again hosted an Olympic Qualifier event for Freestyle skiing. The Nature Valley Freestyle Cup encompassed aerials, moguls, and ski cross competition at both Whiteface Mountain and the Olympic Jumping Complex. For many athletes, this was the last chance to secure a spot on the Olympic team. The 2010 Olympic Freestyle Team will be announced Tuesday, January 26th.

Freestyle skiing is a unique sport that involves several different events. Aerial skiing is like gymnastics on skis, in which participants flip and somersault after leaping off a ramp. Jumpers are scored on jump takeoff, jump form, and jump lading, with a degree of difficulty factored in to result in a total score. Mogul competition is characterized by skiers navigating terrain with large bumps, and requires fast maneuvering. One of the newer disciplines in freestyle skiing is Skiercross, which is based on the motorbike competition in motocross. Competitors ski in groups of four down the course, which includes jumps or banks depending on the course design, and compete to be the fastest 16 (women’s events) or 32 (men’s events). After these are chosen, there is a knockout style of series in which the first two over the line compete in the next round- in the end, the final rounds and small final rounds determine 1st-4th place and 5th-8th places.

This competition attracted some of the best athletes in the sport of freestyle skiing- World Mogul Champion Patrick Deneen competed after already securing his spot on the Olympic Team in December, placing 37th in the final round of moguls. Hannah Kearney, the World Cup Moguls Champion, won the final round. In Aerials, the highest placing US athlete was 10th place finisher Jeret Peterson, who won the event last year. The highest placing American in the women’s Aerial competition was Jana Lindsey, who finished in 8th place in the finals. The Skiercross women’s competition was won by Canadian Kelsey Serwa, and the highest placing American was Langely McNeal in 16th place. In the men’s competition, the winner of the final was Christopher Delbosco of Canada, with the USA’s Daron Rahlves in 4th place.

For more information on the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup, visit the official event website at http://www.whiteface.com/events/freestyle/schedule.php. The competitions will also be televised on NBC and Versus.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Governor’s Budget Targets Aid to Adirondack Municipalities (Updated)

The state budget presented by Governor Paterson on Tuesday would cut 5% from New York’s Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) program to Adirondack towns and villages. Since 2005, money from AIM has been used by local governments across the state for a range of purposes including programs to consolidate government services.

Municipalities lying either wholly or partially within the Adirondack Park stand to lose a combined $123,371. Tupper Lake tops the list of communities hardest hit by cuts to AIM with combined revenue losses to village and town of $9,341.

The Town of Newcomb—where the APA’s Visitor Interpretive Center is at risk, along with snowmobile trail links that depend on transfer of former Finch Pruyn land to the state—would suffer an excision of $9,149 in AIM revenues.

Communities that have recently moved to consolidate services are also among the hardest hit by the proposed AIM cuts: Harrietstown/Saranac Lake would lose $5,826; Moriah/Port Henry, $4,033; and North Elba/Lake Placid, $3,039. Long Lake completes the list of towns with the most to lose with a potential cut of $5,451. UPDATE: The town and village of Dannemora combined stand to lose $6,530 as well.

The Almanack compiled the following full list of AIM cuts to Adirondack localities (click to enlarge):


Monday, January 18, 2010

Figure Skating: ISI Lake Placid Championships

This weekend Lake Placid was filled with figure skaters, parents, and coaches for the Ice Skating Institute Lake Placid Championships. This event was hosted in the Olympic Center, and has been an important part of the Lake Placid competition lineup for many years.

The Ice Skating Institute was founded in 1959 as “a nonprofit organization for owners, operators, and developers of ice skating facilities”, and facilitates participattion in ice skating by rink owners, skaters, coaches, and vendors. According to the ISI website, the organization provides information for the development and construction of ice arenas, organizes consumer shows in conjunction with its recreational skating events, and produces trade and educational publications and literature. ISI also holds an annual educational conference and trade show for arenas managers, skating directors, instructors, and skating industry manufacturers, suppliers and retailers, provides ice skating programs for skaters of all ages and abilities, and hosts four recreational skating competitions annually. Most of all, ISI encourages participation in ice skating as a recreational sport.

The ISI organization encourages recreational participation in ice skating instead of qualifying competition like US Figure Skating. This is perfect for skaters who wish to skate and compete for fun instead of to qualify for National and International Competition. ISI also incorporates more unique events like showcase events (in which skaters can use props and vocal music to establish a theme) and group numbers (where many skaters can skate together). Most of all, ISI aims to allow skaters to compete for fun and satisfaction rather than for qualifying spots at the Olympics. Still, many skaters are members of both organizations and compete on both the US Figure Skating and ISI competitive tracks. One of these skaters is local skater Carly Brox.

Originally from Canada, Carly was one of many competitors skating this weekend; she also was the only skater representing Lake Placid in this competition. Carly lives and trains in Lake Placid, and represents the Skating Club of Lake Placid. She placed 1st in compulsory moves, 2nd in stroking, and 2nd in the freestyle program. As Carly stated as she finished this year’s competition; “I was honored to represent Lake Placid in this competition, and I look forward to competing next year”.

For more information on ISI, visit http://www.skateisi.com/site/.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene: Electric Blues, Jazz and Acoustic Folk

Every now and then a person from our parts makes a splash. Phil Henry is one of those people. His enthusiastic approach to life and music is catchy. Getting to enjoy his performance in a small venue is a treat. I trust it will be a great show to check out on Friday or Saturday night.

Thursday, January 14th:

In Tupper Lake, Chaz DePaolo is performing at p2’s. Chaz is an electric blues guitarist and will performing songs from his latest CD, Bluestopia. The show starts at 8 pm.

Friday, January 15th:

In Tupper Lake, The Phil Henry Band is at p2’s. The show starts at 9 pm.
Phil, a Saranac Lake native, has another local, Brendon Coyle, playing drums with him with Tupper Laker, Wayne Davidson on sax and Vermont bassist, Jim Gilmour. He will be debuting his new album as well.

In Saranac Lake, Professor Chaos CD Release party will be happening at The Waterhole. I saw the phrase “four piece from hell” on their website, I don’t think more needs to be said.

In Lake Placid, Martha Gallagher, “The Adirodack Harper” will be at LPCA. This is her fourth annual concert starting at 8 pm and tickets are $15.

In Ausable Forks, Chaz DePaolo will be entertaining at 9:30 pm at 20 Main.

Saturday, January 16th:

In Saranac Lake, Phil Henry is having his CD release party at BluSeed Studios. The party starts at 7:30 pm.

In North Creek, Dan Melon will be at Laura’s Tavern. Show starts at 8 pm.

In Lake Placid, Chaz DePaolo will be playing at Station Street. The show starts at 8:30 pm.

In Tupper Lake, Broken Ear will perform. The show is at the Park Restaurant and starts at 8 pm.

Wednesday, January 20th:

In North Creek, the Tony Jenkins Jazz Trip will be at barVino. The show starts at 7 pm.

Photo: Phil Henry


Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge

What do racing cars, bobsledding, and Lake Placid have in common? They were all represented at this year’s Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, held this weekend at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid.

The premise of this bobsledding race is unique; instead of bobsled athletes racing against each other, race car drivers and drag racers compete on the famous Lake Placid track. Some notable racers included Morgan Lucas (youngest professional driver on the NHRA tour), Jeg Coughlin (5 time world champion), Shawn Langdon (back-to-back world champion in 2007-2008 in the Super Comp Class), Melanie Troxel (only woman in history to win national events in Top Fuel and Funny Car, the top categories of drag racing), and Joey Logano (the youngest winner in two of NASCAR’S three top divisions).

The challenge is about more than bobsled racing; the Bodine challenge also supports Olympic bobsledding. In 1992, NASCAR veteran Geoff Bodine carried out his idea of introducing US-made sleds to the US Bobsled team. At the time, the US team was racing with European sleds and had not won a medal since the 1956 Winter Games. Bodine decided that, like racing, successful bobsledding depended on having sleds equipped with the most current technology available. The sleds were designed with NASCAR technology, and eventually the US Team broke the Olympic drought when they won silver, bronze (4 man event) and gold (women’s competition) in the 2002 games. Now they are consistent competitors on the World Cup circuit.

Started in 2005, the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge is also a fundraiser to continue the advance in US Bobsled technology. It also gives NASCAR drivers a chance to drive a bobsled and hopefully inspire them to contribute to the project.

This year, the overall winner was Melanie Troxel, the first woman to ever compete in the event. She raced brilliantly, and noted the differences between bobsledding and racing. “It was a totally new experience and a lot to take in,” she said, “I noticed that you get beat around in the sled a lot more, and have to hold your position. I hope to be back next year.”
For more information on the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge and the US Bobsled project, visit the Geoff Bodine challenge website.


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum

Tucked in the small hallway within the Box Office entrance of the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, is the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum. The museum is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon examining the unique artifacts and learning more about the amazing Olympic History of Lake Placid.

The Museum was established after the 1980 Olympics, and was originally located in the former Aromaround café. The circular building used to be known as the Austrian House, and proudly displayed Olympic artifacts. In the 1990s, the Museum entered an agreement with the Olympic Regional Development Authority, and stayed in the location where it is today. The goal of the Museum is to celebrate Lake Placid’s unique Olympic heritage while collecting and preserving Olympic artifacts and archival materials associated with Lake Placid’s Olympic history.

So who visits the Winter Olympic Museum? Visitors of all ages can find something of interest here, from the sparkly figure skating outfits of yesteryear, to the stuffed Mascots from each Olympic Games, and even the original “Ronnie the Raccoon” Mascot costume from the 1980 Games. As for the amount of visits the museum receives, the number varies. “We can have 1500 people in one week, or we can have 100 visitors in a week”, said Olympic Museum Archivist Allison Haas. “It all depends on the season, holidays, or weather.”

The first medal awarded ever in a Winter Olympics (the gold medal won by Charles Jewtraw, a local speed skater, for the 500 Meter race in the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix, France) is proudly displayed in the first part of the museum, on loan from the Smithsonian. A complete collection of participant medals from every summer and winter Olympics are displayed, along with over 2 dozen prize medals from Olympic Games, (including a medal from the 2006 Torino Games).

There is also an impressive Olympic torch collection. For fans of the “Miracle on Ice”, the complete video recording of the game is played daily at the Museum, and the actual 1980 hockey goal guarded by Jim Craig, along with his goalie equipment, stands nearby. A newer feature of the “Miracle on Ice” collection are props and costumes used in the making of the Disney movie “Miracle”, based on the famous showdown between the US and Soviet team.

So what makes the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum such an important and interesting part of Lake Placid? “The museum is all about education, to teach the public about the Olympic history of Lake Placid”, said Allison Haas. “We also collect and preserve important artifacts for future generations to appreciate the Olympics.”

The Museum is open every day from 10-5; for more information, check out the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s website or call 518-523-1655, extension 226.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Inside the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center

With the Vancouver Olympics only a few months away, many are curious about how these elite athletes get to the top of their sport.

Where do they live when they are away from home training? How do they stay on top of their game even when training conditions are less than optimal? The Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Lake Placid works to meet these needs of visiting athletes.

The OTC opened in 1982, in the building where the Northwood’s Inn is today. It opened in its present location in 1989, and mostly serves winter athletes. I was fortunate enough to take a tour of the facility with intern Matt Bailey.

Contrary to popular belief, summer athletes rarely visit the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid; most reside in the Chula Vista or Colorado Springs facilities. The exceptions are the canoe and kayak team, (who are coming to the Lake Placid OTC next week), the rhythmic gymnastics team, and Para-Olympians. The resident athletes represent biathlon, freestyle skiing, bobsledding, skeleton, luge, Nordic combined, and ski jumping. The Lake Placid OTC hosts athletes mostly dependent on their sport, but also based on availability of rooms at other training centers.

The main purpose of the Olympic Training Centers is “to assist athletes in a variety of Olympic sports, and also provide assistance to a number of affiliated sports organizations and disabled sports organizations.” The Lake Placid OTC boasts state-of-the-art training equipment, but also residence halls to house the athletes and provide a comfortable stay away from home.

Despite its smaller size compared to the Colorado and California training centers, the Lake Placid Training Center hosts an impressive amount of services for the athletes. There is a fully-supplied weight room which includes spin bikes, weight lifting equipment, shock-absorbing flooring, and even a treadmill with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.

A large gymnasium in the back of the complex boasts high ceilings (to host volleyball tournaments), basketball courts, and a trampoline for aerial skiers to practice tricks. One of the most impressive rooms in the OTC is the Coaching and Sports Sciences lab, where athletes can work on their technique with the help of technology. One such piece of equipment is a giant treadmill used mainly by biathletes, which helps them analyze their technique and stride with the help of a television monitor.

Besides helping athletes to be their best in competition, the OTC also strives to make their stay as comfortable as possible. There is an on-site cafeteria, serving meals with optimal nutrient amounts as determined by the OTC nutritionist in Colorado. Near the front lobby, a small recreation area is available for the residents to relax when they are not training.

Athletes can also spend time in the athlete’s services rooms, which include a television, Xbox gaming system, and computers (sponsored by A T & T). One of the most interesting features in the OTC is the A T & T charging station. Located across from the weight room, athletes can plug in their cell phone or iPod while working out- definitely helpful.

Some of the best athletes in winter sports are staying and training at the Olympic Training Center; Erin Hamlin (World champion and Olympian in Luge), Haley Johnson (World competitor in Biathlon), Ryan St Onge (World champion and Olympian in freestyle skiing), Mark Grimmette (World and Olympic Competitor in Luge), and John Napier (World Competitor in Bobsled). Joining them are other athletes who come to Lake Placid to train in hopes of making an Olympic team.

What is it that makes Lake Placid’s Olympic Training Center so special? The Olympic history in Lake Placid is certainly inspiring. Lake Placid is the only US city to host two Olympics Games, and the small-town atmosphere contributes to the comfortable, hometown feel. Olympic Training Center intern Matt Bailey put it this way: “The Lake Placid OTC is smaller and homier… it’s central location to all the other sports venues is very convenient for the athletes, and we have a great staff here”.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Lake Placid Hosts 2009 Ice Marathon

Lake Placid boasts a rich Olympic history, particularly in speed skating. In 1932 Jack Shea, a Lake Placid native, won the 500 and 1500 meter events. Another local athlete, Charles Jewtraw, trained on the oval, becoming the first gold medalist of the 500 meter event in the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924. Of course, possibly the best known speed skater to deliver a record-breaking performance was Eric Heiden, who won 5 gold medals in the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, the only skater to win 5 individual gold medals in the same Olympics. This week, Lake Placid was host to a different type of speed skating; a long-distance marathon.

The Lake Placid Ice Marathon, sponsored by the Lake Placid Speed Skating Club and Marathon Skating International (MSI), was the second in a series of marathons hosted by MSI, and included three distances; the 10 K, the 25 K, and the 40 K. On the 400 M oval, the 10 K race equals 26 laps; the 25 K is 65 laps, and the 40 K equals 104 laps. At first glance these distances might seem daunting, but in Europe usually the smallest distance is 40 K, while the highest is 200 kilometers, depending on the location and size of the skating oval. Like running, the distances are measured in kilometers; surprisingly, many of the skaters race all three distances.

Speed skating originated in Holland, including the practice of marathon skating. The Dutch race Elfstedentocht (also known as the eleven cities tour), is a famous marathon that started the tradition of skating long distances. Eventually this form of skating took off in Canada and the United States, and now a dedicated group of skaters participate in both Canada and in select parts of the United States. One of the select locations in the US that hosts ice marathons is Lake Placid.

One of the organizations that contribute greatly to marathon skating is Marathon Skating International (MSI). Their mission is to promote the sport of marathon speed skating in North America, and ultimately establish marathon speed skating as a sport in the Olympic Games.

Many of the athletes this weekend were from Canada, although there were some skaters from Rochester, New York City, and New Jersey competing in the marathon. Although the Lake Placid oval hosted a session for the first time of the season the night before, the ice was in good condition for the races.

The organizing committee and MSI were pleased with how the event progressed this weekend. Race Director Linda Sausa was particularly pleased with the outcome. “The ice was beautiful, and even though it was cold Saturday morning (-8 F) the sun was shining and everyone had a positive race experience. We are grateful to ORDA for their determination with ice maintenance”.

Lake Placid will be hosting two more races this season; the Charles Jewtraw All Around race (January 9th and 10th) and the Jack Shea Sprints (February 6th and 7th).

For more information on Lake Placid speed skating races, visit http://lakeplacidspeed.sports.officelive.com/default.aspx

To learn more about Marathon Skating,
visit http://www.marathonskating.org/index.html