This winter Lake Placid activities connect visitors to 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia
Impressive fall/winter schedule brings Olympians to 1932 and 1980 Winter Games host
LAKE PLACID - Five months and counting. That's the remaining time before the Opening Ceremony (Feb. 7, 2014) at the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics. And given the distance between the eastern United States and the Games site on the Black Sea, it might take that long to get there.
But that's okay. You don't have to deal with the travel and expense of a 6,000 mile journey to experience the Winter Olympic thrill - Lake Placid offers it every day, and never more so than in the Olympic winter. And it's close - a five hour drive from New York City and Boston; two and a half hours from Albany and Montreal; three and a half hours from Syracuse; 30 minutes from the Saranac Lake airport.
As athletes, officials, sponsors, press and mostly European spectators converge on Sochi, guests can come to Lake Placid well into March and feel the same pulse and vibe at a fraction of the cost. And the cast of characters - the Olympic athletes themselves - will be in our two-time Winter Olympic village this season as they qualify for the events in Sochi.
IT STARTS AT OUR FRONT DESK WITH OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALIST ANDREW WEIBRECHT
That aura begins at the front desk of the Four Diamond Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa (518-523-2544) where Andrew Weibrecht's 2010 Olympic bronze medal resides to the delight of all Olympic fans. The son of hotel owners Ed and Lisa Weibrecht, Andrew scored his medal in the alpine skiing Super G. The medal, with his visage in a portrait and Sports Illustrated cover, greets each person who comes to the desk whether to register, or grab a complimentary chocolate chip cookie on the run.
In fact, hotel guests, if their timing is good, might even bump into Andrew walking the hallways.
Currently, Weibrecht is training with his United States Ski Team mates at camps in the Southern Hemisphere. After changing ski companies during the off-season, Andrew has his sights set on racing fast during the November, December and January World Cup events and returning to the Winter Olympics.
ACTION APLENTY ON ICE THIS FALL
A number of other world-class athletes also reside and train in Lake Placid preparing to compete this winter. Bobsled, luge and skeleton athletes are counting the days until Sept. 30 when the Lake Placid track is expected to open, weather permitting. Lake Placid visitors can quickly drive the five miles to the run at Mount Van Hoevenberg on Route 73 and watch these national team athletes tackle one of the most difficult courses on the international circuit.
The U.S. Luge Team will be in race mode on the one mile ice chute Oct. 12-13 during the Norton National Championships. At the same time, American bobsled and skeleton competitors will similarly begin the internal battle for Sochi team slots. Selection races will also continue Oct. 21-22.
For all these athletes, it begins a two-month process of Olympic Team qualification that takes them from national championships and selection events, to the November and December World Cups, and finally to Olympic Team nomination.
OLYMPIC-STYLE ACTION IN LAKE PLACID THIS WINTER
Nov. 4-9: - USA Women's Hockey Four Nations Cup. The United States women's national hockey team returns to Lake Placid to host the Four Nations Cup, an annual tournament that's been held in various forms since 1996. Twenty-five of the nation's top women's hockey players will take to the famed Herb Brooks Arena 1980 rink to train, practice and play games as they prepare for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Other nations participating in the Four Nations Cup include Canada, Finland and Sweden. The United States will open the tournament against Sweden on Nov. 5 before competing against Canada on Nov. 6, and Finland on Nov. 8. The medal games will be held on Nov. 9. All the Cup games will take place in the Olympic Center's Herb Brooks Arena.
Dec. 9-14: - FIBT World Cup Bobsled and Skeleton. The 2013-2014 World Cup season features a stop in Lake Placid where once again, the world's best bobsled teams and skeleton athletes will try to tame the combined bobsled/luge and skeleton track at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex. The field will be filled with athletes who will go on and compete in the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. The home team is led by driver and 2010 Olympic gold medalist Steve Holcomb.
Jan. 15-18: - FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup. The world's best freestyle skiers return to Lake Placid to compete in the FIS Freestyle World Cup. Action will take place at the Olympic Jumping Complex and Whiteface Mountain. The jumping site will host the men and women's aerials competitions, where athletes twist and soar as high as 60 feet in the air before landing, while Whiteface, in Wilmington, N.Y., will be the site of the moguls' competitions. This is the final World Cup event before several nations, including the United States, nominate their 2014 Olympic Teams.
BRING OUT YOUR INNER OLYMPIAN
We don't save all this Olympic fun just for Olympians. You, too, can create your own Olympic memories this winter by going to our venues and getting into the action.
Start with a bobsled ride down the lower half-mile of our world renowned course that we mentioned earlier. A certified driver and brakeman will bring your crew down the run. At the end your time will be flashed on a board and you will get a souvenir photo with your entire "crew".
Once the snow accumulates our visitors can learn the art of biathlon with coaching. You will be taught how to ski into position, relax your breathing and steady yourself to shoot a 22-calibre rifle at the target range.
Or just enjoy a leisurely day of cross country skiing and snow shoeing on 31 miles of idyllic, wooded Olympic trails that offer something for all ability levels.
Another of our unique winter activities occurs on the Olympic Skating Oval on Main Street. This is the site of Eric Heiden's unprecedented five Olympic gold medals in 1980. The 400 meter oval is open for public skating nightly, with multiple sessions on weekends and holidays. It is THE place for evening socializing as you take laps around the rink; it's THE place to work up at appetite; it's THE place to digest after dinner.
These are the reasons why the readers of SKI Magazine name the Lake Placid Olympic Region tops in off-hill activities each year.
And, of course, there is the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, 10 miles from Lake Placid in Wilmington, where the alpine skiing competitions were held in 1980. The downhill, slalom and giant slalom trails used 33 years ago, some widened over that time, are available to the public. In fact, several start buildings used in 1980 still exist, sometimes for racing, many times for photo ops.
What has been done over the years on the hill is as noteworthy as the off-hill menu. Over the years, Whiteface has added a high speed gondola, high speed quad chair, more gladed skiing and riding, the opening of Lookout Mountain, and outstanding snowmaking and grooming. It adds up to one of the top on-snow experiences in North America, where the enhancements and breadth of the resort virtually eliminate any semblance of a lift line.
Yes. Five months and counting to Sochi, but the Winter Olympic experience in Lake Placid is much closer, more realistic and just a call or click away.