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Olympic Venues in the Adirondacks

Every two years, the world gathers together at Olympic venues to celebrate and recognize the fastest, the strongest and the most talented athletes. The host country organizes a spectacular opening ceremony, honoring and commemorating not only the very first Olympics that took place in Athens, Greece - but also rejoicing in its own culture and traditions. It is a time when peace and festivity reign throughout the world…this is the true spirit of the Olympics!

lake placid sign

The History of Olympic Venues in Lake Placid

In 1932 and again in 1980, the world's attention was focused on the Adirondack village of Lake Placid when it hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Referred to as the nation's first winter resort, Lake Placid is a popular area for competitive and recreational winter sports. Around the 1920s, Lake Placid garnered a worldwide reputation, and its 1929 bid to host the Winter Games was successful.

To prepare for the 1932 Winter Olympic Games, a number of new venues were built in Lake Placid. During both the 1932 and 1980 Games, these venues were the hub of action and highlights. One of the most memorable moments of the 1932 Games was when figure skater and film star Sonja Henie won her second gold medals. In 1980, the United States hockey team pulled off one of the biggest sports upsets in history by defeating the team from the Soviet Union, a game every hockey fan probably knows as the "Miracle on Ice."

Although Lake Placid hasn't hosted any Olympic Games since 1980, a U.S. Olympic Training Center was constructed there in 1982. The training facility remains a popular site for many Olympic hopefuls and visitors. From time to time, the venues see competitive action, like the 2000 Winter Goodwill Games.

Lake Placid's Olympic Venues Today

The Olympic venues in the Lake Placid Region are still just as significant and breathtaking today as they were during the area's Olympic years. People from all over the world continue to travel to the Lake Placid area, not just to take tours of the colossal venues and relive their history, but to experience first hand the same ice rinks, ski slopes and bobsled runs used by Olympians!

Nestled within the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid is a beautiful place that boasts spectacular views and an abundance of recreational activities for the whole family. The Olympic venues are broken into four geographical areas that are open throughout the year for sightseeing and recreation.

Olympic Venues:

Olympic Sports Center – Downtown Lake Placid

hockey rink

The Olympic Sports Center is the place to be for ice skaters. This facility is actually where the "Miracle on Ice" game happened. Its three ice rinks provide a haven for hockey players, speed skaters and figure skaters. All of these activities can be seen today as the Olympic Sports Center hosts a wide variety of shows, events, classes and sports camps. The Olympic Speed Skating Oval is open to the public on a daily basis during the winter. Additionally, the site is now the home of Lake Placid's newest conference center.

For sports historians, the Olympic Museum features changing exhibits and video booths plus the equipment used by some of the world's greatest athletes. The museum opened in 1994 and is the first Olympic museum in the United States. It is located within the Olympic Center and contains memorabilia from both the 1932 & 1980 Winter Olympic Games that were held in Lake Placid. The Olympic torch also traveled through the museum in 2002 prior to the games in Salt Lake City.

Whiteface Mountain – Wilmington (9 miles from Lake Placid)

whiteface olympics
Photo Credit: © ORDA-Dave Schmidt

A short scenic drive from Lake Placid are the famous downhill skiing slopes that have challenged Olympic champions and continue to challenge Olympic hopefuls and recreational skiers. With 76 trails, there are runs for all ability levels, a separate mountain area for kids and beginners, and a super pipe for snow boarders. Thousands of winter sports enthusiasts flock to the mountain for fun and competitive sport each winter.

Next to Whiteface Mountain is Little Whiteface, a smaller mountain with more fun activites. In summer and winter, the site's Cloudsplitter Gondola rides are available for visitors to ride to the Little Whiteface summit and relax at an observation deck and picnic tables. If you want to wind down even more, the site offers a yoga session on the summit in summer.

Olympic Sports Complex – Mt. Van Hoevenberg (5 miles from Lake Placid)

bobsled
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Kellogg

At the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex, you can do more than just imagine. Visitors are welcome on the cross country skiing trails that are based here, and you can even take lessons to become a biathlete, which combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.

The Olympic Sports Complex also offers rides at the bobsled/skeleton/luge track used at the past Winter Olympics.

To get the complete experience, a historic walking or guided bus tour is the perfect opportunity to learn about the area's storied sliding history.

Ski Jumping Complex — North Elba (2 miles from Lake Placid)

ski jump

The centerpieces of the Ski Jumping Complex are the 90 and 120 meter ski jumps that tower above the trees around them. The sky deck on the 120 meter jump affords breathtaking views of Mt. Marcy — the highest peak in the State of New York, the John Brown Farm historic site and the beauty of the Adirondack wilderness. The sky deck is accessible by chairlift and elevator.

Nordic jumping training and competition take place here year round. The Freestyle Aerial Training Center is located steps away from the base of the jump towers. You can watch skiers practice their aerial acrobatics year round — in the summer landing in a 750,000 gallon pool!

The Lake Placid Horse Show Grounds are also located directly across the street from the ski jump area. Don't forget to look for the 1980 Olympic cauldron nearby!

Come to the Adirondack Region of Upstate New York, stay at a one of the many Lake Placid hotels and visit the Olympic Venues!

Sources:
http://www.lakeplacid.com/do/history
http://www.lakeplacid.com/do/family-fun/olympic-center-and-lake-placid-olympic-museum
http://www.lakeplacid.com/do/family-fun/whiteface-mountain
http://www.lakeplacid.com/do/family-fun/olympic-sports-complex
http://www.lakeplacid.com/do/family-fun/olympic-jumping-complex