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Lake Placid’s Magical Appeal
by Dick Healy

In a conversation I had with a world traveler and friend, I was astonished to find out that he had never been to Lake Placid. Surprising in that he lives only 110 miles south of the site of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games (recall the famous miracle on ice hockey game), and henceforth the 1932 Winter Olympic Games.

Knowing he’s a life-long avid skier, I asked, “ Did you watch any of the alpine racing on TV during the Vancouver Olympics?”
“ Oh, certainly my friend replied.” Whistler is a wonderful ski mountain. I’ve skied there three times over the years.”

Scratching my head as to why he could travel to the far reaches of Whistler in British Columbia three times, and not ever to Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, N Y, baffled me. He apparently read the puzzlement on my face.

“ Hey,” he said. “ There’s people that live in New Jersey who never set foot inside New York’s Time Square. I’ve heard that some Vermonters never trek over to New Hampshire. For one reason or another I just didn’t get to Placid, summer or winter.”

“ Well,” I informed him,“ If you want to see some of America’s Olympic alpine racers live, you had better make it to Whiteface Mountain March 20-23 for the U. S. Senior National Alpine Championships.”

He didn’t say he’d go, but I know I spiked his interest.

Aside from the pending U. S. Nationals this month, the Lake Placid region is chucked full of things to do – on and off the snow – and you won’t find prettier mountain scenery anywhere. From the summit of Whiteface Mountain you can look out over acres and acres of forested land, dotted with lakes offering a sweeping panorama that includes, on a clear day, Canada to the north and New Hampshire and Vermont to the east.

Glance further south and Mount Marcy’s 5,344 peak appears in the distance. Macy is the highest of the famous Forty-Six High Peaks in the Adirondack State Park with an elevation over 4,000 feet. As a point of interest, you can fit Yellow Stone National Park, Yosemite National Park and a few lesser ones into the 6 million-acre designated forever wild Adirondack Park, and still have room to spare. The pristine beauty surrounding Lake Placid Village can match any year-round destination resort town in the world.

I have been trekking to Lake Placid summer and winter for more years than I can to remember. The village sits on Mirror Lake and the larger Lake Placid is a scant two miles away. Both have deep remarkably clear blue water – spring fed for the most part –. During warmer months, spending time boating on either lake is special. Yet when winter’s ice covers the lakes, you can enjoy ice-skating, being pulled on a sled by a team of huskies, the toboggan chute, cross-country skiing on the Olympic trails at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, or tying to master the art of snowshoeing. Perhaps visiting the MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex and the bobsled and Luge site.

A myriad supply of Lake Placid guides to dining and lodging are available, however, I have a few tips that may make your Lake Placid visit more interesting and pleasurable.

I like staying at Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn, 350 Main Street. Devlin was a premier American ski jumper born in Lake Placid who flew 50 missions with the 8th Airforce in WW11 and whose memorial bronze statue is situated at the base of the 90-120 meter ski jumps at Intervale. Devlin’s many trophies and war decorations (Including Purple Hearts) are in a glass-enclosed display in the Inn’s main lobby.

Popular during the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, and still going strong, is the Cottage located right on Mirror Lake’s shoreline.
Of course Whiteface Mountain, some 12 miles from the village, needs little embellishment on my part. It’s expected to enjoy some fine spring skiing based on snow depth reports. As I mentioned earlier, this March 20-23 U.S. National Alpine Championships at Whiteface is the place to be.

You can check out the web site for The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) for competition start times.

More by Dick Healy




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Last modified: February 02, 2009    Copyright © 2012-2018