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Save the dates: World Cup action

October 15, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

With their 2015-2016 teams in place, USA Luge and the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation christened the sliding track at Mount Van Hoevenberg Thursday, Oct. 8 with opening day practice. It was a sure sign that winter is coming, and that means it's time to rally to support for our Winter Olympians.

We haven't forgotten that USA Luge is poised to make a decision whether to move its official headquarters from Lake Placid to elsewhere. That process began earlier this year to ensure the national governing body - only one of eight in Winter Olympic sports in the U.S. - can rebuild and strengthen its program. If USA Luge did move, it would be a black mark on Lake Placid's history and its efforts to further establish itself as the best place in the U.S. to groom Winter Olympians.

One of the challenges USA Luge faces is attracting community support in the Olympic region, mainly from seeing crowds at their hometown events at the Olympic Sports Complex.

It seems there is a lack of excitement when it comes to luge in the U.S., probably because it's a young sport compared to bobsledding, which has deep roots in Lake Placid. Bobsledding gets more attention. It's seen as a sexier sport. Yet luge is just as exciting and dangerous.

Don't forget that these are our friends and neighbors at USA Luge putting athletes such as Erin Hamlin on the podium. They deserve our support.

So, Lake Placid, let's show support for all our Olympians and national governing bodies, particularly USA Luge, by saving these dates:

Dec. 4-5: FIL Luge World Cup

Jan. 8-9: IBSF World Cup Bobsled and Skeleton

Jan. 14-16: FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup

A World Cup is a big deal. It's only one step below the Olympic Games, and we're lucky enough to host three World Cups again this winter.

During the FIL Luge World Cup at Mount Van Hoevenberg, the doubles and men's races will be held on Dec. 4, and the women's and team relay competitions will take place on Dec. 5.

During the IBSF World Cup Bobsled and Skeleton at Mount Van Hoevenberg, the competition starts on Jan. 8 with two-man bobsled and men and women's skeleton. On Jan. 9, the world's best women bobsledders and four-man teams will tackle the 20-curve course.

During the FIS freestyle World Cup on Jan. 14-16, the Olympic Jumping Complex will host the men and women's aerials competitions, while Whiteface Mountain will be the site of the moguls.

When the Winter Olympic Games come to town, thousands of Americans get excited about supporting our U.S. athletes. They stream to Lake Placid to enjoy the competition, the camaraderie, the party. It's one big international festival.

Why not re-create that atmosphere during the World Cup action? Lake Placid is fully capable of establishing a festival around each one of these events, building excitement and sending thousands of people to our Olympic venues to watch the athletes compete. We should be hearing the chant - "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" - at every World Cup, not just when our hockey teams play Canada.

Remember, just like during the Olympics, we are hosting the world at each World Cup. We're not saying hold a parade every time, but let's do something more to make our hosts know they are visiting America's Olympic Village, the only village in the U.S. to host the Winter Olympics twice.

And let's so something more to put our athletes on a pedestal, even if they don't make the podium.

This is Lake Placid's chance to step up and show visiting teams that we have the best Winter Olympic fans in the world. Of course, that would be disputed by the European nations, where World Cup events attract Olympic-sized crowds every time. But there's no reason - with all the marketing expertise we have in this nation - that we can't create enough buzz to get more people to our Olympic venues during the World Cups.

Lake Placid claims that Winter Olympic sports are part of the local culture. We're not so sure about that. They are certainly the foundation of our heritage, but the word "culture" implies that it's part of our everyday lives, or at least celebrated annually in some way. We don't see that happening, not yet.

It's no longer enough to say we're home to the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games. It's no longer enough to only celebrate our winter athletes publicly every four years when compete in the Olympics. It's time to celebrate our Olympic heritage and support our Winter Olympians every year.

It's time for an Olympic festival in Lake Placid.



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