Upcoming games transform Lake Placid into a winter sports wonderland

By Linda Laban | January 6, 2023

The biggest event since the 1980 Olympic Winter Games is about to take over the Adirondacks.

The Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games, Jan. 12 to 22, will bring more than 2,500 student-athletes and coaches from more than 50 countries to upstate New York’s picturesque mountain range, as well as countless spectators and winter sports fans.

The Winter World University Games, the second largest multi-sport competition after the Olympics, brings 12 winter sports races to mighty Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington (alpine, jumps); Gore Mountain in North Creek (freestyle, free-ski, snowboarding); and the gentler inclined Mount Van Hoevenberg (Nordic).

Lake Placid, which also hosted the 1932 Olympic Winter Games, underwent massive upgrades since those glory days. New trails were carved out and older ones widened and improved — with state-of-the-art sustainable energy and water-saving snowmaking and grooming installed.

The Winter World University Games are coming to Lake Placid.
Daredevil athletes will compete in the biggest winter sports event outside of the Olympics.
Loads of purpose-built facilities will welcome athletes and spectators this month.
Organizers expect large crowds.
Lake Placid hopes to remain a hub for winter sports far into the future.
The city is also working to preserve its sporting history, like the Herb Brooks Arena, the home of the greatest sporting event of the 20th century.

“We typically get a lot of snow, but you need top-of-the-line snow making to have security when hosting top events like this,” three-time Olympian and Lake Placid native Andrew Weibrecht, 36, told The Post.

Weibrecht’s father, a former ski instructor, and his mother, a former luge athlete, own and run the nearby luxury resort, the Mirror Lake Inn. When Weibrecht retired from competing after his third Olympics in 2018, he joined the family business.

In January 2022, the newly designed race finish line, which keeps the historic 1980 Olympics scoreboard, was dedicated as the Andrew Weibrecht Finish Area. Whiteface Mountain’s new Warhorse Quad Lift is named in honor of Weibrecht, a two-time Olympic medal winner, impressively nicknamed the Warhorse.

Case in point: The story goes that one week before the start of the 1980 Olympics, there was no snow. “Then it came. Two storms dumped all that snow ready for the games,” said Weibrecht. “But it was a bit of a nail-biter.”

Snow is no guarantee, even in the mountains. That’s why the organizers are prepared with artificial snow.

Though he isn’t officially involved, Weibrecht is thrilled Lake Placid is shaping up to remain a world-class winter sports destination with unique facilities like Mt. Van Hoevenberg’s new indoor push track — the only indoor refrigerated facility in the United States, which attracts bobsled and skeleton athletes from around the world throughout the year.

Also, history is honored in the new Lake Placid Olympic Museum at the Olympic Center in downtown Lake Placid, slated to open later this year. Just as it is preserved via the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, where the 1932 opening ceremonies were held and the first gold medal in those games was won and awarded to Lake Placid’s Jack Shea; and where, in 1980, Wisconsin speed skater Eric Heiden won an unprecedented five gold medals. There’s also the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, the home of the greatest sporting event of the 20th century, the Miracle on Ice; and the 1932 Jack Shea Arena, where daily skating is held.

“The history is incredible. But the question became is this place one of relics, or does Lake Placid become relevant?“ said Weibrecht.

Lake Placid is certainly reclaiming its place as a world-class winter sports venue beyond the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games. Next up: World Cup Ski Jumping (Feb. 10 to 12), World Synchronized Skating Championships (March 30 to April 1), and the Bobsled Skeleton World Championships is booked for February 2025.

“There is a special connection to winter sports and the Olympics here,” said Weibrecht. “I was amazed at my first Olympic competition: there were 10 or more athletes from Lake Placid. It just gets into your blood.”

Original Article