A mile outside the village is the Olympic Jumping Complex, with the 90- and 120-meter ski jumps. A glass-enclosed elevator takes visitors to the top of the 26-story structure, where an observation deck leaves you feet from the top of the jump runway. Competitors descend by soaring a hundred yards down the landing hill.
A little farther down the road is the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg, with cross-country skiing on 50 kilometers of trails used in the ’80 Games and two banked, iced tracks for Olympic and World Cup bobsled, luge, and skeleton events. On winter weekends, visitors thrill to a 50-mile-per-hour plummet down the lower portion of the bobsled track in a sled piloted by a professional driver and brakeman.
For a more, well, placid Olympic experience, spend a few hours in the Olympic Museum, in town at the Olympic Center. We strolled through the town’s Olympic history, informed by displays, photos, memorabilia, films, and video clips about the ’32 and ’80 Games.
And then there are the non-Olympic ways to play in the snow and ice: pickup hockey games and dogsled and toboggan rides on frozen Mirror Lake. (The village sits on the shores of Mirror Lake; larger Lake Placid is just north of downtown, across a narrow strip of land.) The toboggans launch from the ’32 Olympics converted ski jump trestle perched on the edge of Mirror Lake. Screaming riders are flung across the ice at 40 miles an hour for several 360-degree spins on the long wooden sleds.
All of these diversions have helped Whiteface-Lake Placid earn recognition from the readers of Ski magazine as the number one destination in the East for off-hill activities for the 20th consecutive year. The magazine’s 23d annual reader survey, announced in the October issue, also ranked the region highly in scenery (third), resort dining (third), après-ski (third), challenging terrain (seventh), mountain character (eighth), family programs (11th) and overall satisfaction (11th).
With the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, little more than a year away, several countries will soon begin the process of selecting their Olympians. Some athletes may even earn Olympic berths when they compete this winter at Lake Placid. The village and Whiteface hosted bobsled and skeleton racing in November and have two more World Cup events coming up in freestyle skiing (Jan. 14-19) and luge (Feb. 3-9).
Irwin Curtin can be reached at email@example.com.