Lake Placid: New York’s Winter Playground

Lake Placid

Village is celebrating 40 years of the Winter Olympics of 1980

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

View artifacts from the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid Olympic Museum.
View artifacts from the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

Host of two Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980), Lake Placid still welcomes athletes to compete in the Empire State Winter Games and is also the training Mecca for top winter sports athletes.

But even if you’re more of a weekend warrior, consider visiting Lake Placid for your winter getaway.

With fewer than 3,000 residents, Lake Placid feels more like a quaint mountain town. But it offers many opportunities for the ultimate in winter recreation.

It’s not just for top-level athletes. The bobsled/luge racetrack is open for the public to experience the thrill of a 50-second ride with a professional driver and brakeman operating the sled.

Experience winter biathlon — cross-country skiing and rifle shooting — with a program that provides training in both skiing and marksmanship.

You can also ski Whiteface Mountain, the slopes that hosted the 1980 downhill competition. But if you’re more of a novice, don’t worry; its 86 trails include ones meant for beginners.

For the active Olympic fan

Or take a ride on The bobsled/luge racetrack, which is open for the public to experience the thrill of a 50-second ride with a professional driver and brakeman operating the sled.
Or take a ride on The bobsled/luge racetrack, which is open for the public to experience the thrill of a 50-second ride with a professional driver and brakeman operating the sled.

Want to immerse yourself in the Olympics while getting a workout? Try downhill skiing at the site of all the 1980 downhill ski events: Whiteface Mountain. Located nine miles from Lake Placid, the ski center has 86 trails for all abilities and expansive views of the surrounding Adirondack High Peaks. Lessons are available for kids, teens and adults, seniors, adaptive needs and private.

You can also skate on the 1932 Olympic rink and the 400-meter speed skating oval.

If cross-country is more your style, Mount Van Hoevenberg, venue of the 1980 cross-country skiing events, beckons with miles of groomed trails among mature pines.

Take a break from your winter escapades and stop by the Lake Placid Olympic Museum. View artifacts from the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games, including uniforms, authentic uniforms and a complete history and video on the Miracle on Ice hockey game in which the US team achieved an unprecedented — and unanticipated — victory of the Russian team.

You can also take an elevator to the top of the 120-meter Olympic ski jump. Since the jump launches skiers as far as 100 yards, guests aren’t allowed to test it out but the view is amazing.

Don’t miss the official tour of the Olympic Center. While the tour helps visitors relive the most exciting moments in the 1932 and 1980  Olympic Games, it’s also an functioning sports center with scheduled competitive events and training sessions.

Empire State Winter Games

Catch the Empire State Winter Games (www.empirestatewintergames.com) if you’re in Lake Placid Jan. 20 through Feb. 2. The events include 30 winter sports and more than 2,000 athletes from 15 states and three countries and at all levels of ability. Lake Placid is just one of the towns hosting events. Numerous others in the region hold events as well, so check the website for a detailed list.

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