Venue Modernization Update

As of 10/18/22

As the biggest event since the 1980 Olympics approaches – the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games January 12 through 22 – the NYS Olympic regional Development Authority (ORDA) is nearing completion of an extraordinary time period of transformational construction projects that are not only serving the organization’s mandate and mission but also simultaneously repositioning the region’s appeal and stature in the wide world of winter sport.

Gore Mountain

Trails – An all-new 60-foot wide, intermediate trail with grooming and snowmaking begins at the top of Burnt Ridge Mountain and parallels the Barkeater Glades before ending just uphill of the Roaring Brook Bridge at the bottom of what’s known as The Pipeline. This new adventure portents to be loads of fun in itself, plus it will make access to Little gore Mountain and the Ski Bowl faster and more direct.

Gore’s signature “Sunway” trail was also improved with more snowmaking capacity and a more consistent grade for a better beginner experience.

Crews have further developed the sanctioned slopestyle and boardercross courses, enhancing snowmaking and widening the terrain. The FIS-certified race trail, Echo, was also bolstered with increased snowmaking capacity to better accommodate both the venue’s busy calendar of alpine events as well as recreational skiers and riders.

Hybrid Groomers – Two new grooming machines were added to the fleet, including Gore’s second hybrid tractor.

Additional upgrades – The mountain’s potable water system was upgraded, and important updates were made to the mountain’s communications systems.

The Ski Bowl – A new 18,000+ square foot base lodge is being added to the Gore Mountain North Creek Ski Bowl that will tremendously enhance activities and the guest experience across all four seasons. Expected to be complete in 2023, the lodge will feature a new restaurant, a tavern, two levels of patios with scenic views, central ticketing services, a full-service hiking center, chairlift rides and a unique rail-zipline ride. Within walking distance of North Creek’s village center, the new lodge will serve as an attractive new hub for the Ski Bowl’s existing mountain biking center and Nordic and alpine night skiing activities.

Mt Van Hoevenberg

This is a spectacularly singular venue, and now, its massive, venue-wide modernization projects of recent years are ensuring remarkable experiences for recreational visitors and athletes alike, across disciplines, for decades to come.

The all-new Mountain Pass Lodge is a magnificent facility in its own right. And it’s one that does heavy lifting in the scope of Mt Van Hoevenberg’s transformation:

  • In a major advancement for the sports of bobsled, luge, and skeleton, a new indoor push track is now the only such indoor refrigerated facility in the United States. Athletes from around the world travel to Lake Placid to train and compete throughout the year.
  • An all-new Climbing Center is one of the region’s largest, serving all ages and abilities all year long. The center offers 1500 feet of climbing space, including bouldering walls and a 30-foot top-roping wall with auto-belays and multiple lead options. The center is also home to a special group of activity programs to help parents nurture in their young folks life-long skills in rock climbing, all in a safe and comfortable environment.
  • A new SWIX concept store is the only one of its kind in the country and features the latest tech wear as well as SWIX cross-country ski products and items from its partner brands.
  • There’s also Mountain Pass Mercantile, where guests can get tickets, info, and more, including a wide array of souvenirs and gear they won’t find any where else.
  • The 81-18 Café offers a spacious, well-lit dining area inside and out with a wide selection of tasty meals.
  • Henry’s Tavern is a popular place to relax and enjoy a drink and good conversation après ski.

Outside the Mountain Pass Lodge is where the Olympic Legacy awaits:

  • The multi-sport refrigerated bobsled, luge, and skeleton track is one of the world’s premiere facilities and among the most challenging. Today, an expansive new awards platform and podium is right below the track adjacent the Lodge.
  • A new biathlon stadium is conveniently located near the lodge and features paved roller ski trails with outstanding, accessible new accommodations for spectator viewing.
  • In addition to new competition trails as part of its 55kms of cross-country ski trail network, Mt Van Hoevenberg is now home to one of the world’s most advanced snowmaking systems dedicated to a Nordic facility. That makes maintaining top conditions easier and the venue highly attractive to the sport’s organizing bodies for national and international competitions.

Finally, the venue boasts a remarkable array of recreational activities in summer and winter, and topping the list of family-oriented fun is The Cliffside Coaster – the longest mountain coaster in North America and the only one that follows the historic 1932 and 1980 bobsled tracks.

The Olympic Center

Known as the headquarters for the Lake Placid region’s remarkable history, the Olympic Center facilities in downtown Lake Placid are all coming to the conclusion of a massive project that’s rejuvenated these essential elements of the Olympic Legacy. Now, they can be toured and seen in their new splendor, including:

  • The 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, the home of the greatest sporting event of the 20th Century, the Miracle on Ice.
  • The 1932 Jack Shea Arena, steeped in history and now newly renovated to accommodate a host of activities from major events to daily open skating.
  • The James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, where the 1932 Opening Ceremonies were held, where the first gold medal in those games was won and awarded to local Lake Placid hero Jack Shea, and where, in 1980, Eric Heiden stunned the world by winning five gold medals.
  • The new Lake Placid Olympic Museum – Soon to be unveiled and open to the public, this official chronicler of the region’s glory and keeper of its tangible vestiges will welcome visitors to an inspiring new immersive museum experience. This final Olympic Center renovation project will feature state-of-the-art interactive displays, 3D visualizations, experiential learning exhibits, and engaging displays and artifacts. Together, these new spaces will tell the stories of Lake Placid’s rich winter sports history In ways that convey the ideals of that legacy while helping visitors experience the boundless human spirit that is the driving force of Olympic champions.
  • The Miracle Plaza featuring food and beverage with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Whiteface Mountain

Warhorse Quad Lift – Named in honor of Andrew Weibrecht, three-time Olympian and Lake Placid native, the new lift provides greatly increased capacity as well as easier and more direct access from the base to both the top of beginner runs and to the freeway lift. The latter makes race trails more accessible to athletes and spectators.

Freeway Lift – Venue improvements are often inconspicuous, such as the Freeway Lift’s mechanical and electrical enhancements to ensure reliability. During the January 12 through 22 FISU World University Games, this lift will be dedicated to the event.

Race Trail Improvements – Trails essential to major competitions were widened and snowmaking capacity increased while also improving the sustainability of snowmaking systems.

Andrew Weibrecht Finish Area – Dedicated in January 2022, the newly designed race finish features a historic scoreboard.

Power Supply – An uninterrupted supply of sufficient electricity is so often taken for granted, but it doesn’t happen (especially as facilities grow and have greater needs) without concrete investments in infrastructure. This last year, crews installed new primary and secondary transformers and all new power to the finish building.

Communications – To ensure effective, hassle-free reporting and tracking of race results on the mountain and beyond, new digital fiber and timing wire were installed as well as a completely new digital radio system.

Snowmaking – ORDA is achieving greater efficiency in snowmaking, due to smart investments in systems and equipment, and because snowmaking accounts for approximately 70 percent of ski resort energy requirements, sustainability is a high priority. The goal is more snow, faster, with less energy. Many of these enhancements are detailed in this sustainability article. They include new high-efficiency snow guns, compressors, new pump houses and water handling systems. Together these changes have decreased water and energy requirements while increasing the speed and capacity of our snowmaking systems. That’s not to mention that the vast majority of this mountain’s (and Gore’s) power is produced at a dedicated solar installation, essentially allowing ORDA to turn sunlight into snow.

Other Recent Construction – The infrastructure and guest experience at the Veteran’s Memorial Highway (the only road up an Adirondack High Peak) was greatly improved over several recent years. New grading, culverts, and paving, extensive castle restoration, and a new elevator with improved disabled access to the summit are among the projects.

There is also a new Bear Den Lodge and Learning Center (including both new covered conveyors and a new conveyor load SkyTrac Quad lift, an all-new Legacy Lodge mid-mountain, major improvements to the Base Lodge as well as a host of IT, electrical, heating, lighting, and other largely unseen improvements.

Belleayre Mountain – not used for WUG but of note

Snowmaking – As with other ORDA ski venues, Belleayre has made great strides in improving snowmaking capacity and efficiency. Upgrading this vital infrastructure has been a multi-phased project. More than 50,000 feet of new pipe was installed this summer as well as high efficiency pumps and an arsenal of new snow guns that greatly decrease energy use while greatly increasing snow output.

Electrical Infrastructure – Upgrades increased reliability of all lift, lodge, and snowmaking operations.

Hybrid Groomers – Two new grooming machines were added to the fleet, including Belleayre’s second hybrid tractor.

Base Lodge – Guest-experience-enhancing improvements include a heated patio and new outdoor foodservice area, extensive new pavement, and a new and expanded retail shop on the main level.

Summary

Over the last six years, New York State has made significant investments in ORDA’s state-of-the-art training and competition facilities, including over $500 million across all ORDA venues and operations in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. As a result of these investments, ORDA facilities are open year-round for events, athlete training, and recreation.  When Lake Placid hosts the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games, the event will then be followed by the World Cup Ski Jumping from Feb. 10-12, the World Synchronized Skating Championships from March 30-April 1, Bobsled Skeleton World Championships in February 2025, and additional local, regional, national, and international events, setting a new standard for international sporting events by making the environment a top priority.

With each project the organization has implemented important venue improvements aimed at sustainability and mitigating climate change impacts to winter activities.  These include reduced energy and water use through high efficiency snowmaking equipment, hybrid snow groomers and electric Zambonis, LED technology, new cooling systems and industrial refrigeration improvements, salt use reduction, solar arrays, and more.

Decades after the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, through investment by the State of New York, the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) has modernized its venue infrastructure with a priority placed on eco-friendly renovations and practices.