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Lake Placid’s aging Olympic venues undergoing extensive upgrades

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 3:08 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The 2023 World University Games are expected to bring around double the number of athletes to Lake Placid, more than there even during the 1980 Olympics. And organizers hope that with all the facility upgrades they’re doing, they can continue to welcome elite athletes there for years to come afterward.

“Super fortunate, super lucky, and it’s really just kind of like a big exhale since this has all happened since this can all be in one place,” said Sara Roderick, a U.S. National Team skeleton athlete who hails from South Burlington.

The luge, bobsled and skeleton team members are taking advantage of a new ice house at the Mount Van Hoevenberg facility in Lake Placid where they can practice parts of their run without having to do the full thing.

It’s not only unique to our region, it’s one of only three in the world.

“This is a huge game-changer. It’s pretty much a place we can work on our start, all of our techniques, whether it’s the first, the middle or the end. Really, really beneficial heading into this Olympic year,” Roderick said.

The new facility is a sign of things to come for all the upgrades going at the former Olympic venues in the area.

Orange construction cones line swaths of roads in downtown Lake Placid and the entire oval speed skating rink is torn up, but it’s all to bring much-needed updates to the more than 40-year-old structures.

Also, new snowmaking, refrigeration, even updated locker rooms and a major overhaul at the ski jump are some of the changes.

“Now we are giving it new life and it’s a place where people are really going to love to come to and we want people to thrive here and just excel in every way because I think that’s exciting to New Yorkers, to Vermonters and to the whole country,” said Paul Wylie, the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s director of sport.

Wylie took over the position in 2019 and as an Olympic silver medalist himself in figure skating, he’s excited for all that’s coming to the area.

“I take that charge seriously because I feel like it’s my career now to make that extend to grow and see what we can do to make winter sports in this country even better and to serve the population,” Wylie said.

Lake Placid is always buzzing with elite athletes and their Adirondack North Country Sports Council, which is helping to oversee the coming games which will bring 1,600 athletes from all over the world and will hopefully keep them coming back.

“Being a former athlete who trained and competed here for years, I know the advantages of this area and I’m super excited that all of these upgrades will not only keep athletes here but entice future athletes of all levels to continue to train here and recognize the benefits,” said Ashley Walden of the Adirondack North Country Sports Council.

The construction on most of the venues will be wrapped up by this coming winter, just in time for athletes to train.

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