The United States Olympic Committee’s Lake Placid Olympic Training Center and the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) are teaming up to present Olympic Day, Saturday, June 25, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Olympic Training Center, 196 Old Military Rd., in Lake Placid. Village of Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall will open Olympic Day with the Olympic Day Proclamation.
The free event gives families and youngsters the chance to try Olympic sports and meet athletes from biathlon, luge, bobsled, ski jumping and Nordic combined, freestyle aerials, speed skating, figure skating and canoe and kayak. Plus participants can try luge on the fully refrigerated indoor start ramps at USA Luge’s headquarters. Visitors can also watch athletes train, including 2010 U.S. bobsled Olympian John Napier. » Continue Reading.
The Conference Center at Lake Placid is open for business. The finishing touches have just been completed, the brass has been polished, art hung and the windows cleaned. Everything is shined and ready to go – the entire 60,000 square foot facility is complete.
On Tuesday, June 21, the public is invited to conference center’s grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, between 4-6:30 p.m. Tours will also be available, staff will be on hand to answer questions, hor d’ oeuvres from CenterPlate will be served and there will be live music. » Continue Reading.
Belleyare Mountain Ski Center, located in the Catskills and currently operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), could instead be managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), according to officials at ORDA. The idea comes from Governor Cuomo’s Commission on Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE), and could be implemented as early as next winter. If implemented, the proposal stands to benefit skiers and the economies of the Catskills and Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) will soon be re-opening the Olympic venues for the summer and fall seasons.
The Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway in Wilmington, N.Y. kicked-off the openings on May 20th. The highway allows visitors to drive to the top of the fifth-highest peak in the Adirondacks, one of only two whose summit is accessible by car. The highway is an eight-mile drive from Wilmington to the summit, where a castle made of native stone and an in-mountain elevator await. The highway is open daily from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. thru Oct. 10. » Continue Reading.
Despite some setbacks in January, the winter 2010-2011 season appears to be a successful one for the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) and its venues. The skiing and riding season at Whiteface and Gore officially came to a close on Sunday, April 17. As many as 480,080 guests visited the 1932 and 1980 Olympic venues in the Village of Lake Placid, Town of North Elba, the Town of Wilmington and North Creek, according to an ORDA press release. Last season there were 454,920 visits to the venues. These numbers do not take into account CanAm Hockey, Canadian Hockey Enterprise and several group tours. » Continue Reading.
You’re in Lake Placid, ready for a day of winter fun, when the unpredictable happens; it’s raining and the conditions at the winter sports venues are less than ideal. So what can you do when your plans are washed out? Luckily there are still plenty of options for those rainy days.
The Olympic Museum in the Olympic Center contains several thousand items of Olympic memorabilia, and is worth a visit. From a dress belonging to skating superstar Sonia Henie to props from the Disney movie “Miracle”, the Museum holds an astounding array of historical items that tell the story of Lake Placid’s Olympic Legacy. The Museum is open from 10 am until 5 pm Monday-Sunday. For information call 518-523-1655. If you feel like watching movies, the historic Palace Theater on Main Street in Lake Placid is the place to go; it hosts a variety of movies and two show times a day, including matinees on the weekends. Built in 1926, the Palace was originally called the Adirondack Theatre, and was home to silent movies and stage shows. It is also home to an original theatre organ, and its charming marquee still lights up Main Street. For more information, call them at 518-523-9271.
Bowlwinkles on the south side of Main Street is another place to visit on a rainy day. It is the only bowling alley in Lake Placid, and includes an arcade and laser tag. There is also a bar and grill on the premises. Call at 518-523-7868.
Immerse yourself in Lake Placid’s Olympic culture by visiting the Olympic Training Center. Located on Sentinel Road, the Olympic Training Center is the only one on the East Coast and primarily houses winter athletes. Take a tour and view the facilities where many Olympians live and train. Call 518-523-2600 for any inquiries.
The Olympic Center also hosts tours with knowledgeable area residents and historians; in addition to tours, you are welcome to wander on your own and watch a hockey game or figure skating practice. For more information, call 518-523-1655.
The long-awaited Gore Mountain Interconnect with the Historic North Creek Ski Bowl was opened, and then closed as a lack of snow hampered the celebratory first weekend of the newly installed Hudson Chair connecting the Ski Bowl with the upper mountain. The snafu was the latest in a string of problems that have plagued the area’s state-run ski areas.
Members of the public joined state and local politicians on Saturday for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the base of the new Hudson Chair, but Sunday morning a key trail connecting Gore with the Ski Bowl, the Pipeline Traverse to Little Gore, was closed keeping skiers on the upper mountain. Patrons using the Hudson Chair to access the Eagle’s Nest Trail at the summit of Little Gore could ski to the base of Burnt Ridge Mountain – where a quad provides access to the rest of Gore Mountain’s trail system – and then return to the Ski Bowl via the the Pipeline Traverse. By noon on Sunday however, the only trail leading from the Upper Gore area to the Ski Bowl was closed, severing the ski link with the lower mountain. Those wanting to take the new Hudson Chair were required to use a locally supplied shuttle to get to the Ski Bowl. The Hudson chairlift and Pipeline Traverse remain closed today, but are expected to reopen following this week’s snows.
“We had enough snow cover to run hundreds of skiers on Pipeline Sat, but it got a little too thin for Sunday unfortunately,” Gore Mountain’s press contact Emily Stanton, told the Almanack by e-mail.
The Gore Interconnect’s stutter start was one of a series of travails that have beset both state-run Adirondack ski areas. Lack of snow and an early January thaw at Gore has meant a slow start to the season, meanwhile lift problems have plagued Whiteface.
Just before the new year a chairlift malfunction at Whiteface stranded 76 people for up to two hours. Last week, the Kid’s Kampus chairlift malfunctioned and a lift operator suffered a fractured arm and was airlifted to Fletcher Allen in Burlington.
On Saturday, the Summit Chair malfunctioned eliminating access to the upper mountain. Whiteface personnel were relegated to using a snow cat to ferry riders to the top a few at a time. Then on Sunday, Whiteface’s Lookout Mountain chairlift stalled 45 minutes stranding patrons, although none were evacuated.
The Gore Mountain Interconnect is hoped to make North Creek’s downtown more accessible to Gore Mountain skiers and riders. A massive new resort by FrontStreet Mountain Development LLC of Darien, Connecticut, designed to take advantage of the Interconnect has not materialized. The project was first proposed in late 2005 and was approved by the Adirondack Park Agency in 2008. Only one model home has been built and none of the more than 130 condo properties have been sold.
Critics of the projects have claimed the estimated $5.5 million cost of the connection between Gore and the Ski Bowl would be an improper use of taxpayer money to help a developer.
For the second year the North Creek Business Alliance has organized a shuttle that facilitates access between Gore Mountain’s Base Area, the North Creek Ski Bowl, North Creek’s Main Street, and area lodging properties.
Gore opened January 25, 1964. The first ski train arrived in North Creek in March of 1934, and the Ski Bowl was home to one of the first commercial ski areas and ski patrols in the US.
Photo: The Gore Mountain Interconnect’s new Hudson Chair. Courtesy Gore Mountain.
More than 2,300 skaters from 150 teams throughout the eastern United States will compete at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid during the 2011 Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships, Feb. 3-5.
The event, which was last held in Lake Placid in 1998, is a qualifier to the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. The top four finishers in the senior, junior, novice, intermediate, juvenile, collegiate, adult and masters divisions will move on to the 2011 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, March 2-5, in Ontario, California.
Organized by the Olympic Regional Development Authority with the Skating Club of Lake Placid, and sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating, the event will feature teams from as far south as North Carolina to as far north as Maine. Synchronized skating is the fastest growing discipline of figure skating. Teams consist of eight to 20 athletes, each moving as one flowing unit. Each team performs a free skating program made up of required formations and footwork sequences with emphasis on precise movements, unison of team members and creativity. Junior and senior level teams will also perform a short program.
Tickets for the 2011 Eastern Synchronized Team Skating Sectional Championships are $15 per day for adults and $12 for juniors and seniors. Teams to watch include world silver medalists, the Haydenettes (senior); world junior team alternates, the Lexettes (junior); national champions, Ice Mates (novice); national bronze medalists, the University of Delaware (collegiate) and national champions, Esprit de Corps (adult).
Ski fans will have only one chance to see the world’s best aerial and freestyle skiers compete in the United States this winter when the FIS Nature Valley World Cup freestyle World Cup returns to Lake Placid, Friday through Sunday, Jan. 21-23. The Lake Placid event is the only World Cup in the United States and will also serve as a qualifier for the U.S. ski team’s world championship squad. More than 140 athletes from 19 countries are expected to compete in the three-day event. So far Chinese skiers have dominated both the men’s and women’s aerials fields. Zongyang Jia is currently the top ranked men’s aerialist, while his teammate, Guangpu Ql, sits in second place. Canada’s two-time Olympian Warren Shouldice is third overall.
Ryan St. Onge (Fraser, Colo.) will lead the U.S. aerial squad. St. Onge has won five-career World Cup aerial events and is also the 2009 world champion.
The Chinese women sit 1-2-3 in the women’s aerial World Cup rankings with Mengtao Yu leading the pack. Xin Zhang follows her teammate, in second place, while Chuang Cheng holds down the third place spot.
Lake Placid, New York’s Ashley Caldwell is expected to compete for the first time this season in Friday’s women’s aerials event. Caldwell finished a surprising 10th during last February’s Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.
Hannah Kearney (Norwich, Vt.) and Patrick Deneen (Cle Elum, Wash.) will headline the U.S. mogul team’s lineup. Kearney is the reigning Olympic women’s moguls gold medalist, while Deneen carries the title of 2009 world champion into the event.
Both athletes should be pushed from a very deep international field. Deneen sits in second place in the current men’s mogul standings, behind France’s Colas Guilbaiut and ahead of Canadian Mikael Kingsbury, who’s third overall. Deneen’s teammate and reigning Olympic bronze medalist, Bryon Wilson (Butte, Mont.), is in fourth position.
Kearney currently leads the overall women’s moguls World Cup points chase, but right behind her are two Canadians, Jennifer Heil, a two-time Olympic medalist, who’s in second place and Kristi Richards, who is in third place. American Heather McPhie (Bozeman, Mont.) is also hoping for a strong performance in Lake Placid.
Aerial action at the Olympic Jumping Complex begins Friday at 9:45 a.m. with the women’s qualifying round, followed by the men’s qualifying round at 12:25 p.m. The finals begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the gate the day of the event, $15 for adults and $9 for juniors and seniors. Mogul competition, at Whiteface, begins both Saturday and Sunday at 9:15 a.m. A lift ticket and skis will be required to view the moguls’ competition at Whiteface. For more information about the FIS Nature Valley World Cup freestyle World Cup, visit http://whiteface.com/events/freestyle.php.
Visit www.facebook.com/lakeplacidevents to enter to win a weekend trip to Lake Placid to see the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup, including a two-night stay at The Pines Inn, two dinners, lift tickets and VIP event credentials. The winner will be notified on Friday, Jan. 14, after 5p.m.
There were hints last week that it would happen, but it’s official, Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) Chair and Open Space Institute (OSI) President Joesph Martens has been nominated by Governor Andrew Cuomo to head the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Martens has quite a legacy already in the Adirondack region. Under his leadership OSI secured protection of the 10,000-acre Tahawus property and most recently the 2,350-acre Camp Little Notch in Fort Ann. Martens also spearheaded OSI’s involvement in the Nature Conservancy’s 161,000-acre Finch Pryun purchase. » Continue Reading.
Ice Fishing Season has begun around the North Country, meaning you can now legally catch fish with a tip-up from the ice. The problem? No ice.
Thin ice is just one of the climate related impacts we have come to expect in this era of declining Adirondack winters. According to a 2000 article in Science, over the past 150 years in the Northern Hemisphere lake “freeze dates averaged 5.8 days per 100 years later, and changes in break-up dates averaged 6.5 days per 100 years earlier.” Those numbers are born out in the Adirondacks where the warmest years on record have nearly all occurred since 1990. A 2009 study of Mirror Lake showed ice now forms “14-15 days later and melts 3-4 days earlier than it did in the early 1900s, thereby reducing seasonal ice cover duration by slightly more than two weeks.” What does that mean for us? If you are among the estimated 20% or so of Adirondack residents employed in climate sensitive business, it means a lot. According to Jerry Jenkins, author of Climate Change in the Adirondacks, “No town can really prosper without a year-round economy, and no Adirondack town can have a year-round economy without winter recreation.” Jenkins provides an overview of our winter economy:
Area skiing takes place on over 300 miles of groomed trails at 29 different ski areas. Backwoods skiing uses several hundred miles more. Snowmobiling uses 800 miles of groomed trails on state land and several hundred miles of trails on private land. Ice climbing takes places on over 100 routes on 13 major cliffs. Ice fishing… is done locally on most lakes. To support this activity requires several hundred businesses to run facilities and feed, house, and equip participants.
Jenkins looked in detail at the Old Forge area and found that the Town of Webb issues about 10,000 snowmobile trail passes a year alone and benefited from an additional three local ski areas. He found that 78 of the 94 restaurants and inns were open in winter, six businesses sell, repair, or rent snowmobiles, 20 more sell equipment and other merchandise. Jenkins believes that 500 to 1,000 people are employed by the winter economy in the Old Forge area alone.
One thing seems clear now about climate change. Leaders in the climate sensitive sectors of our local economies should already understand the temperature change our region faces and be planning ways to lessen the impacts of local warming.
During the recent Wintergreen event it became clear to me that the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) fails to appreciate the impact of warming on our winter sports economy.
What convinced me that ORDA was behind the ball? Considering the state’s budget woes that seem to threaten ORDA’s very existence, I would have thought the agency’s president and CEO Ted Blazer would have come to the Wintergreen conference armed for bear. I would have thought he’d be rolling out numbers showing the economic importance of local winter sports and ORDA’s important role in perpetuating them. Instead participants at Wintergreen were offered a litany of energy saving projects, mostly at Whiteface, that left a number of participants I spoke with concluding that Blazer just didn’t get it – that ORDA had no plan.
During a break I found Blazer at the back of the room with Whiteface General Manager Bruce McCulley, the brother of vocal motorized access advocate James McCulley, who was sitting in for a representative of the Ski Educational Foundation. I asked Blazer if ORDA had a plan. “We’re using common sense and internal initiatives,” he said. The plan? No plan.
Mount Van Hovenberg and Gore Mountain, ORDA’s oft-forgotten stepchildren, were not even represented at the meeting, the first to offer hard numbers on what climate change will mean to our winter economy. Repeated requests to ORDA’s press office inquiring whether the agency’s facilities even tracked snow cover, temperature and other climate change phenomenon went unanswered.
ORDA has a uniquely important leadership role in addressing the challenges we face from global warming. ORDA’s national and international role in winter sports and winter sports culture represents a significant investment, not just by locals, athletes, and their organizations, but by all taxpayers. Forget for a minute ORDA’s $20 million Olympic Conference Center project, think of ORDA’s “continued decline in revenues” according to WNBZ Jon Alexander, that “shows no prospects of the authority getting out of the red anytime soon.”
ORDA’s operating budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 is $32.4 million, which anticipates a $600,000 decline in facilities revenues. According to Alexander, “the operating losses balloon to $13.4 million once $7.5 million in depreciation is included.” About half of that shortfall is expected to be recouped with $7.14 million in state taxpayer-funding.
ORDA seems to understand that their revenues are in steady decline, but it’s not clear whether ORDA leadership knows whether or not the shortened natural snow season, and the additional costs of snow-making and grooming, has anything to do with that decline. “The 2010-2011 budget anticipates a continued revenue decline at Whiteface, with the facility making $1 million less than this year, but also projects a $200,000 increase at Gore,” Alexander reported. Those numbers include increases in ticket prices and advertising revenues.
Attendees at the Wintergreen conference learned some startling numbers about the impact of our winter sports economy, among them that fact ORDA has about 1,200 local employees. According to five year old report [pdf] ORDA contributes about $300 million to the local economy. In 2006, Lake Placid’s sports and tourism venues received more than $40 million in state subsidies according to a report by NCPR’s Brian Mann (about $15 thousand for resident of the Village of Lake Placid). Those are significant investments in our winter economy, investments we need to safeguard.
I can’t forget what Blazer told me when I asked him about a plan to deal with warmer winters impact on ORDA’s bottom line: “We’re using common sense and internal initiatives.”
Common sense tells me that with so much at stake, ORDA needs a thoughtful plan to address the impacts of climate change on its – and one of our region’s – core businesses. Photo by John Warren: Whiteface Mountain on November 12th.
Officials from the Village of Lake Placid, the Town of North Elba, the Town of Wilmington, the New York State Olympic Development Authority (ORDA) and the Lake Placid CVB, and the Whiteface Regional Visitors Bureau have announced that they will host the 2011 Empire State Winter Games, which were canceled this week due to state budget cuts.
According to a statement from the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on November 16, the summer, senior, physically challenged and winter Empire State Games were canceled after being cut from the 2011 budget. The 31st annual Empire State Winter Games were scheduled to be held in February 2011 in Lake Placid. The website for the games has already been removed. The cancellation led to discussions among community leaders about a solution that would allow the Games to resume as scheduled this winter according to an announcement issued today by the Lake Placid CVB. Representatives from the Towns of North Elba and Wilmington, the Village of Lake Placid, the Lake Placid CVB and the ORDA made a joint decision Wednesday evening to work cooperatively to ensure that the games would continue according to the announcement.
“We’ve made this decision on behalf of the greater Lake Placid region, just as Lake Placid decided in 1928 to pursue the 1932 Olympic Winter Games during the Great Depression, ” said Mayor Craig Randall. “This situation is actually an opportunity for Lake Placid, as it jump-started our existing plans to convene a leadership committee that will facilitate programs to support the communities’ sustainable future.”
“We’re pooling all of our collective talents, and are prepared to aggressively pursue funding to make this happen,” said James McKenna, President of the Lake Placid CVB. “We have already and will continue to communicate closely with the former Empire State Games staff to guarantee a rewarding experience for our New York State athletes.”
The event will be held on the weekend of February 25, 2011, and includes competitions in the disciplines of alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ski jumping, ice skating and more.
The 19th annual Whiteface Oktoberfest, in Wilmington, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2-3. During the two-day festival, the Olympic mountain dusts off its lederhosen, fires up the oompah band and enjoys a tall mug of German beer. But it’s more than that… it’s fun for the entire family with activities including original vendors, arts and crafts, children’s rides including the popular hayride and inflatables, Bavarian food, drink, entertainment.
New this year, volleyball, horseshoes and 60-second challenges for great prizes. Also get ready for the upcoming skiing and riding season at Whiteface with ski shop sales in the Ausable Room. Of course the Whiteface Oktoberfest offers great traditional German music from Die Schlauberger, performing under the entertainment tent outside the base lodge each day, the Lake Placid Bavarians, who have been performing traditional Bavarian music in the north country for the last 19 years, and Ed Schenk on the accordion. The Cloudspin Lounge will also feature music from Schachtelgebirger Musikanten (Scha-Musi) and performing at their second Oktoberfest will be Spitze and The Alpen Trio.
As America’s #1 German band die Schlauberger is a powerhouse of musical expertise. From the moment they step on stage until they have wrung the final note from their last song, die Schlauberger has the audience up and dancing to their powerful renditions of German favorites and other crowd pleasing tunes.
Spitze will also get the audience involved with their amazing alpine show which features cowbells, the alpine xylophone, and the alphorn and of course – yodeling, while the Alpen Trio will greet Cloudsplitter Gondola passengers at the summit of Little Whiteface with the alphorns.
Finally, Whiteface also welcomes back Schachtelgebirger Musikanten for the sixth year to our Oktoberfest. The lively duo will be performing in the Cloudspin Lounge on Saturday and on Sunday.
Other entertainment to be found during the festival include the Alpenland Taenzer, nominated and accepted as members of the “Gauverband Nordamerica,” a nationally and internationally known organization promoting German Heritage throughout the United States and Canada, and “Kindergruppe,” comprised of 8-10 couples ages 3-19. Older members of the Kindergruppe also dance in the adult group.
Guests can also drive the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway and enjoy spectacular 360-panaromic views of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada from the top of the state’s fifth highest peak.
Oktoberfest will be held Saturday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. A complimentary shuttle service will be provided both days. Departure from the Olympic Center Box Office in Lake Placid takes place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Departure from Whiteface to Lake Placid takes place at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m. (Sunday only), 6 p.m. (Saturday only), and 7:30 p.m. (Saturday only). From Wilmington pick-ups are at noon both days with the return shuttle leaving Whiteface at 5 p.m.
Admission is $15 for adults, $9 for juniors and seniors and gondola rides are $12. More information about ORDA’s 19th annual Oktoberfest can be found online.
The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, N.Y., turns 75 tomorrow, Tuesday, September 14th. Whiteface, its staff and the town of Wilmington, will celebrate the occasion by rolling back prices to $1 per person, the same rate as it was in 1935. And since the Highway is dedicated to all veterans, they will be admitted free.
Once at the top, guest will have the opportunity to enjoy historical displays at the castle, a specially priced barbeque, and at 1 p.m. a ceremony which will include the reading of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech, which dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of World War I. Other speakers will include New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer and Town of Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston. Opened to automobile traffic July 20, 1935, the Highway “officially” opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony, Sept. 14, 1935 which was attended by President Roosevelt, who was New York’s Governor when ground was broken for the eight-mile long stretch of roadway. During the ceremony, the United States’ 32nd President dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of the “Great War,” but in 1985, then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo re-dedicated the highway to all veterans. It has recently been slated for upgrades.
Whiteface Mountain is the fifth largest peak in the Adirondack Mountain range and it’s the only mountain in the Adirondacks that offers accessibility by vehicle. Today, from mid-May to early-October, visitors to the area can take a drive or cycle up the five-mile long scenic highway, from the toll booth to the top. Along the way there are scenic lookout points and picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy views of the Adirondack region.
Once at the top of the 4,867-foot high Whiteface Mountain, guests can enjoy a spectacular 360-degree, panoramic view of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada. Guests can also visit the castle, built from native stone, where they will find a gift shop and restaurant. For those who are unable to reach the summit on foot, an elevator is available that will take guests the final 26-stories to the summit’s observation deck.
The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
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