Published on: September 10, 2021

Venue improvements

LAKE PLACID – After an expenditure of $297 million of New York State money, the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid is ready to march into a future ripe with upgraded sports venues. That’s good news for world-class and recreational skiers, skaters and sledders, especially those who stay at the Mirror Lake Inn which is just minutes from all the sites.

Many of the venues in Upstate New York used for the 1980 Winter Games have not seen the needed investment to keep them up to international standards. The Olympic Jumping Complex is an example. International athletes and their equipment have evolved over the years, but this venue did not keep pace. For example, World Cup ski jumping left Lake Placid long ago, but now, with a venue that meets international jumping standards, that picture has changed.

This site also includes a brand new zipline and gondola.

Child on zipline
A recent addition to the Olympic Jumping Complex has been a zipline


Massive renovations have occurred at the Olympic Sports Complex where cross-country skiing and biathlon were held in the Winter Games nearly 42 years ago. Insiders and avid Nordic skiers have long said that the trail network at Mount Van Hoevenberg has the potential to be among the finest in North America. Now it’s a reality, made complete with a new snowmaking system that covers 5 kilometers and the addition of a roller skiing network. Then add a new, three-level, 55,000 square-foot base lodge with all the requisite services to go with it. For thrill-seekers, the loooong Cliffside Coaster – picture a bobsled on rails where you control the speed – opened last fall.

The Olympic Speed Skating Oval on Main Street is undergoing a total facelift which will allow for a longer outdoor skating season, thanks in large part to a new refrigeration system. This site marked the last time Olympic speed skating was held completely outdoors and saw Eric Heiden carve his own miracle – 5 gold medals at the Winter Games. And just think – you can skate at the very same location once renovations are complete.

In the Olympic Center, site of the improbable U.S. hockey team’s 1980 gold medal, both the 1932 and 1980 arenas have been upgraded and retrofitted so that both can interchange between NHL-sized ice surfaces and the bigger international hockey layout. In addition, locker rooms, restrooms, concession stands and hospitality areas are all being modernized.

If there has been one venue that has received continual attention over the years it’s the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area. That evolution continues yearly. The most noticeable was last summer’s replacement of the 20-year-old Cloudsplitter Gondola cabins and the infrastructure that goes with this lift that services from the base to the top of Little Whiteface. Additionally, new lifts and lodges are being installed and updated, along with added snowmaking capacity. Skiers and riders will see these improvements when the new season gets underway in mid-to-late November.

If there is a motivating factor in all of this activity it is the acquisition of the World University Games set for January 2023. Once this major event was secured, the path was paved for entry into a brave new world that thanks the state’s investment, will benefit residents, visitors and elite athletes alike for decades to come.

(Images courtesy Olympic Regional Development Authority)