If there’s an international winter sports center, its name is Lake Placid.

Not only does it hold the distinction of having hosted two Winter Olympic meets, in 1932 and again in 1980, but more than 8,000 world - class athletes annually train and compete here in every conceivable winter sport.

Now, hold your breath: Visitors are welcome to use any of the training facilities, whether it’s zigging and zagging on a bobsled at a screaming 50 miles an hour down the lower half of the Olympic bobsled track - with a professional driver and brakeman on the sled with you - or gulping when you get off a glass elevator that carries sightseers 26 stories to the top of the 90-meter ski jump ramp. Fortunately, your ticket is good for a round trip.

Competing with the bobsled at providing terrifying thrills to courageous visitors is the Olympic luge.

Nearby is the Whiteface Mountain Ski complex with its vertical of 3,216 feet - the highest in the East. If you’re an advanced intermediate looking for a precipitous thrill, challenge the expert men’s and women’s downhill 1980 Olympic runs from the summit, where the view of the Adirondack wilderness, the 6-million-acre New York State park, is spectacular.


Whiteface offers more runs for experts and beginners than intermediates on the main mountain, but adjacent Little Whiteface is laced with intermediate trails. The ski resort has all the usual facilities - ski schools, rentals, and a special children’s center, though the latter doesn’t accept youngsters less than two years old.

After a day on the mountain, try your own skating skills on the Olympic Oval rink at night.

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Cross-country skiers have access to the 50-km complex of groomed 15-foot-wide trails, which includes 10 marked runs: 3 novice, 6 intermediate, and 1 expert. Be careful. You might find an international champion practicing on your slope.

For those who wish to take a break from the more ardent activities, there always seems to be a local, national, or international competition in some winter event, from ski biathlon to ski jumping and snowboarding.

If watching is not on your itinerary, enjoy an afternoon dogsledding, or take the family for a nighttime toboggan run. You can pile up to six kids on a toboggan and ride a lighted ramp that ends with a roaring swoosh across the star-studded darkness of Mirror Lake.

Lake Placid itself is a remarkably beautiful community whose charm is reminiscent of that of old European ski towns. Among the usual shops is a noted art center that features the artistic and handicraft skills of Adirondack artisans. Whiteface Mountain, for downhill skiing, and Mount Hovenberg, for cross-country skiing and the luge and bob runs, are each about 8 miles from the center of the town, which is dominated by the huge Olympic center with its indoor hockey rink and outdoor staking rink. Buses run regularly between them, but it’s nice to have a car.

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