Posts Tagged ‘winter sports’

Monday, February 22, 2010

30 Years of The Empire State Winter Games

In 1978, the first Empire State Summer Games were held at Syracuse University. In 1981, Lake Placid hosted the 1st Empire State Winter Games, in which amateur winter athletes from the state of New York can compete in winter sports such as ice hockey, figure skating, skiing, speed skating, and more. The Empire State Games celebrated their 30th Anniversary in Lake Placid this past weekend.

Each year in February athletes of any age compete at events held at the Olympic venues in the Lake Placid. The State Games in general give the athlete an experience similar to the Olympics- they can participate in Opening Ceremonies in the Olympic Center (during which the “Empire State Games” torch is lit), receive their own warm up suit and hat, and compete in Olympic Style competition. The sports include adapted skiing, alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsled, cross country skiing, figure skating, women’s ice hockey, luge, skeleton, skier cross, snowboard cross, ski orienteering, snowshoe racing, ski jumping, and short track speed skating. The Games are conducted by the New York State Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation.

Athletes compete in the Empire State Games for the thrill of competition, and also for the chance to compete in the State Games of America. Held biennially, the State Games of America are held in various locations in the United States, which are selected by a bid process. In 2009 the State Game of America were held in Colorado Springs, Colorado; in 2011, they will take place in San Diego, California.

For more information on the Empire State Winter Games or the State Games Organization, visit their websites at http://www.empirestategames.org/winter/index.htm and http://www.stategames.org/.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The 2010 Olympics at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Adirondackers are Winter Olympics junkies to begin with, watching snow and ice sports as enthusiastically as they play them. This year, with a dozen local athletes at the games in Vancouver, people here are all-out Olympic-obsessed.

One of the best ways to keep tabs on local athletes is through the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, which has sent two correspondents to cover the games in Vancouver. Senior sports writer (and great photographer) Lou Reuter is reporting on his second Winter Olympics, and managing editor Peter Crowley is covering his first. Both writers are there for the duration, and they are posting directly to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise web site each day.

Reuter has been reporting on World Cup events in Lake Placid for some 15 years, interviewing top U.S. and world athletes. He knows the local competitors well—he’s been writing about Nordic combined skier Billy Demong since he was in high school, for example, and he’s especially knowledgeable about the sliding sports, since many bobsled and luge athletes and staff are based in Lake Placid.

It is remarkable for such a small newspaper to send such a big proportion of its staff, and it’s good reader-service. The reporters and editors back home are also putting in overtime in Crowley’s and Reuter’s absence and laying out extra pages for a daily four-page special Olympic section. Reuter’s and Crowley’s reporting can also be found in the pages and on the web site of the Lake Placid News, the Enterprise’s sister paper. Both are owned by Ogden Newspapers Inc.

Photograph of Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, by Lou Reuter, courtesy of Adirondack Daily Enterprise


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Avalanche Pass: New & Improved Video

A few weeks ago, I posted a video of my ski descent from Avalanche Pass. In the post, I mentioned that I had taken several short clips of my ski tour to Avalanche Lake and planned to piece them together to make a movie. Well, I’ve done that. It’s eight minutes long, including the descent posted earlier, and features such scenic highlights as Marcy Dam, the slide on Little Colden, the rock walls of the pass, the Trap Dyke, and of course the lake itself. You can watch the movie on my Adirondack Explorer blog.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nancie Battaglia’s Winter Sports Photography Show

Lake Placid photographer Nancie Battaglia currently has a show of winter sports shots at 7444 Gallery in Saranac Lake. The exhibition is called “In Motion” and coincides with the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, which Battaglia is covering for Sports Illustrated and other publications.

Battaglia has attended ten Olympics and has been shooting winter sports in Lake Placid since 1980. She regularly phones her observations from Vancouver to NCPR. You can hear her latest report here.

The show will be at 7444 Gallery at 28 Depot Street in Saranac Lake until March 6. Call for an appointment (518) 282-4743.


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!!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Abandoned Trails in the Adirondacks

My first backpacking trip was on an abandoned trail.

It was around 1981 or so, and my uncle Evan Bergen of Grafton was keen to take his girlfriend and me on a two-day trip in late November to Cliff Mountain, one of the trail-less high peaks. And he wanted to do it on a trail that had been closed – a route that was originally called the East River Trail.

At the time, I hadn’t realized that my first attempt at backpacking would involve a wet snowstorm, a low of zero degrees, crossing bridge-less rivers on boulders glazed in ice or a snow-covered fallen log, bushwhacking skills and no actual view. Hey, what did I know of backpacking? Included in my external-frame backpack were a full box of raisins and a pair of binoculars – I had not yet realized how heavy a backpack gets after a half-day of walking. It was an Experience.

Traveling along part of that route several weeks ago – as reported here – got me thinking about that old trail. Why was it closed? Did anybody miss it?

So I called Tony Goodwin, executive director of the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society, to see what he knew about it.

Turns out the trail was once the primary southern route into the High Peaks. It followed an old road, made of logs, built to accommodate winter logging sleds. The road was built around the 1920s, about the time that the state acquired much of the land from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (which once owned 40,000 acres and some of the state’s highest peaks).

When hiking became popular, this was the main hiking trail in. Later, the ghost town of Upper Works became the main southern route in via the Calamity Brook Trail, and the longer East River Trail fell into disuse. Goodwin says the trail was closed around 1980, not long before I hiked it.

“There were long stretches of sidehill bridging and corduroy,” he said. “And those were finally collapsing. The DEC didn’t feel there was any reason to restore those bridges or cut lengthy reroutes around them.”

I can certainly speak to the corduroy. On the second day of our hike to Cliff – we made it far as the height of land before the short day forced us to turn around – I was constantly slipping on the trail. Not because I was becoming hypothermic, as my uncle suspected, but because my rubber “Micky Mouse” Army surplus boots kept slipping over the snow-covered logs of the old roadbed.

My 1962 copy of the ADK’s Guide to Adirondack Trails: High Peak Region, describes this trail in the dry prose of the day. The trail at the time departed from Sanford Lake, closer to the Tahawus Mine, and not at the present-day parking lot near the old blast furnace. “The footing is quite treacherous, especially in wet weather, due to slanting, slippery corduroys,” the book even warns (a warning that, apparently, my uncle chose to ignore).

Reading about it today, I’m amazed to see that what took us a day and a half of walking was only eight miles (but there was those slippery rocks and logs, and Lynn did fall into a stream at one point, and then there were those damn raisins, which I didn’t even eat, and those binoculars, which I didn’t even use …).

It also got me wondering about other lost trails. Goodwin spoke of a few in the High Peaks, including some ski trails around Whiteface built for the 1932 Olympics, and a now-defunct route to Dix near the current trail from Route 73. There’s also the trail from Mt. Van Hoevenberg to South Meadow, now closed due to blowdown and a bridge that was washed away, but Goodwin says efforts may soon be underway to reopen it.

Elsewhere in the park there are other ghosts of trails. A 1930s-era map from the North Creek area shows dozens of miles of ski trails used by those who took the Ski Train up from Schenectady, now either part of Gore Mountain Ski Area or lost to roads or overgrowth (several routes still exist that follow the historic routes — one even goes by a 1930s shed for a rescue toboggan).

Further to the south, a route to the top of tiny Cathead Mountain near Northville was lost due to a dispute over private land access.

Do readers know of other abandoned trails? Should the state bring some of them back?

Illustration: USGS Map showing Cliff Mountain.


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.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Cross-Country: The 28th Annual Lake Placid Loppet

This past Saturday cross-country skiers enjoyed the 28th Annual Lake Placid Loppet at the Olympic Sports Complex Cross-Country Ski Center. Novice and expert skiers alike skied the same track as the 1980 Olympic athletes.

So what is a loppet? Basically, it refers to a long-distance cross country ski race in which participants mass-start and skate various marathon distances. Like most marathons, a lot of food is consumed during the event, and a party, banquet and awards ceremony is held after the races. The term “loppet” originated in Scandinavia, where cross country races are an important part of the culture. For example, approximately 15,000 people participate in the Mora Vasaloppet in Sweden and nearly 2 million Swedes watch it on television. The sport originated as a mode of transportation and became a national pastime. » Continue Reading.


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.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ski Barbecue and Olympic Send-off Sunday

This Sunday Saranac Lakers and their neighbors will gather at Mount Pisgah to celebrate winter carnival, eat barbecue and wish their four local Olympians well. Also, the village-run alpine ski area will host a freestyle skiing and snowboard competition, its first ever.

The BBQ will be held 11:30-2:30 at the Mount Pisgah lodge. The families of Olympians will be special guests. At 1 p.m. photographer Mark Kurtz will take a group photo from a bucket truck, and the gathering will be videotaped and put on YouTube so that local Olympians Billy Demong (Nordic combined), Tim Burke (biathlon), Chris Mazdzer (luge) and Peter Frenette (ski jumping) can see their proud hometown cheering them on.

Everyone is invited. There’s a charge for the barbecue but the Olympic rally is free. People are welcome to bring signs and banners. The vets’ club will provide flags. Organizers are hoping to have more than 250 people in the photograph. There will be an opportunity to send recorded messages to the athletes as well. 

Events begin at 10 a.m. with the annual White Stag Race, one of the oldest continually run ski races in the East, begun in the mid 1940s. The big-air freestyle exhibition will be held throughout the day on the Terrain Park. 

Pisgah is one of the Adirondacks’ awesome little ski areas (here’s a list of the others, including the bigs), and there is a lot of excitement on the mountain this year, not just because of the Olympians. Friends of Mt. Pisgah, a grassroots group, is trying to raise $400,000 to replace the T-bar lift, the tubing area is better than ever, and the terrain park and night-lighting have undergone big improvements.

The 113th Saranac Lake Winter Carnival kicks off Friday night at the Harrietstown Hall with coronation, when the nuclear secret of who will reign as this year’s king and queen is unlocked. Events continue until Sunday February 14.

Photo: Why Saranac Lake skiers are so good. Courtesy of Mark Kurtz Photography


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


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.


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/.



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