Lake Placid Travel Guide
You may see Olympic-caliber athletes in a variety of sports training in and around Lake Placid, which was the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics. National and international competitions in bobsledding and luge are held at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, alpine racing and freestyle competition at Whiteface Mountain, and speed skating at the Sheffield Speed Skating Oval in the center of Lake Placid. Hockey and figure-skating competitions are held in the ice arena next door to the Olympic oval. But you don't have to spend all your time on the sidelines.
You might strap on some skates and take a spin on the speed-skating oval or the indoor ice arena; shoot down an old ski slide in a toboggan; or hurtle down a bobsled run. Go downhill skiing at Whiteface, the largest alpine resort in the North Country, or cover a few miles on cross-country skis at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. Head to the southeastern part of Adirondack Park for the Gore Mountain Ski Center, a Whiteface sibling with a 2,100-foot vertical drop, and the Garnet Hill Cross-Country Ski Center.
During the 1980 Olympics, the Verizon Sports Complex was the site of the luge, bobsled, cross-country skiing, and biathlon events. And this is the perfect place to try some of these sports yourself. In winter you might whoosh down the ½-mi bobsled run at 50 mph–60 mph—a professional driver and brakeman accompany you—or steer a modified luge along a serpentine track. From mid-June to early November, the bobsled ride is offered on wheels. If you're prone to motion sickness, consider taking some Dramamine first or avoiding the bobsled. The ride is not only fast, but is bumpy and sways a lot. Olympic Center, 2634 Main St., Lake Placid, NY, 12946. 518/523–4436. www.orda.org. Bobsled ride $75, luge $60. Winter only. Call or check Web for times.
Ice Hockey and Ice-Skating
National Hockey League training camps are held at the Olympic Center during the pre-season, and the women's U.S. national hockey team makes its home here. You might catch ice-hockey tournaments or college games at the arena. From late November to mid-March, you may skate ($7) on the outdoor Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, where Eric Heiden won his five Olympic golds during the 1980 games, or at the indoor 1932 Olympic Rink. From late June to late August, the indoor Lussi Rink is open to the public. 2634 Main St., Lake Placid, NY, 12946. 518/523–1655. www.orda.org.
An old 30-foot-tall ski slide right in town has been converted into a hair-raising toboggan run that spits you out onto and across iced-over Mirror Lake. The chute usually opens after Christmas but might be open as early as November and as late as February, so call to check conditions.
The towers of the 70- and 90-meter ski jumps here are stark and exposed and seem out of place, but the view from the top of the taller tower is dramatic. A glass-encased elevator takes you 26 stories to the top, where you get a bird's-eye view of the lay of the land and the High Peaks around Lake Placid. You also get a stomach-gripping view of what the jumpers see while preparing to take flight. During most of the year you may also opt to ride a chairlift up to the elevator. In summer, freestyle skiers practice twirls and somersaults into the pool at Kodak Sports Park.
The Olympic Sports Complex has 31 mi of groomed cross-country-skiing trails. Full-day trail passes are $18; lessons and rentals are available. You may also rent snowshoes here. From late June to early October, mountain bikers take over the trails (it's $10 for mountain biking).