Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | News | Local News | Contact Us | Home RSS

Lake Placid is a stronger community with USA Luge

May 19, 2016
Editorial , Lake Placid News

Thank you, USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy and Board of Directors for choosing to keep your headquarters in Lake Placid. When your city search began a year ago, we said you had our attention. Apparently, you also caught the attention of the right people in Albany.

A good deal of the credit goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for putting on the table a $6 million funding package that offered enough incentive for USA Luge to make that decision. Without this kind of commitment from the state, we don't think the organization would have stayed in New York.

Moreover, a lot of people worked behind the scenes on this effort, and we thank them as well.

Article Photos

USA Luge Olympic medalist Erin Hamlin exits the track after winning the gold medal in the women’s singles event at the FIL Luge World Cup in Lake Placid in December 2015.
(News photo — Shaun Kittle)

While the year-long, city-bidding process was stressful, Lake Placid is a much better village today than it was a year ago because of that process. We're not talking about the $5 million for a new start track or $1 million for marketing efforts. We're talking about the team effort.

Faced with losing one of two remaining national governing bodies of Winter Olympic sports, this village rallied in a way we haven't seen in a long time. It galvanized the community, reminding us of the days when Lake Placid kept going back to the U.S. Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee to bid for a second Olympics, a process that began in 1946 and ended in 1974.

It's been a long time since we've seen a local delegation fighting together to keep Lake Placid in the Olympic game. Building a new sliding track at Mount Van Hoevenberg and attracting the 2000 Winter Goodwill Games was certainly a high point, but that would not have happened without a major financial commitment from the state.

For the most part, stakeholders have been doing their own thing, expecting that the state government would provide the necessary leadership to lift Lake Placid onto the international stage in the 21st century. Once the 1980 Olympic Winter Games ended, many people put all that burden on the Olympic Regional Development Authority, formed in 1981 to operate the Olympic venues. But ORDA can't carry the torch alone. The USA Luge bidding process proved that the state government is only one member of Team Lake Placid.

Aside from the exemplary work being done at USA Luge, USA Bobsled and Skeleton, ORDA, the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the town of North Elba, we've admired Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall and Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President Jim McKenna for keeping Lake Placid in the Olympic conversation. Every fall, they attend the World Union of Olympic Cities Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, representing Lake Placid as a two-time host city. This duo has been our contingent, rubbing elbows with much-larger summer and winter host cities.

Compare that to the Olympic bidding contingent of yesteryears. In January 1964, for example, more than two dozen people were part of the delegation traveling to the Games in Innsbruck, Austria, to persuade the IOC that Lake Placid would be the best city to host the 1968 Winter Olympics. That didn't include the seven Lake Placid athletes who marched in the Olympic opening ceremonies the day after Lake Placid lost the bid to Grenoble, France.

Today, when Lake Placid is looking to attract events or investment in the Olympic venues, we are seeing that team approach again. For example, when a local delegation traveled to Montreal recently to discuss the expansion of the Empire State Winter Games by including Canadian athletes, a number of local officials attended, including Jim Leahy from USA Luge.

Perhaps the best example of Team Lake Placid fighting for improvements came at the end of February when a coalition met with the governor's staff at the Capitol to discuss Olympic venue improvements and the USA Luge headquarters proposal. In addition to our state Senate and Assembly representatives, we saw stakeholders and supporters from all over the region in that meeting, including the village of Lake Placid, town of North Elba, Essex County, ORDA, USA Luge, U.S. Olympic Training Center, Adirondack Health and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. Former Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas set up the meeting.

As we move forward to improve our Olympic venues, build a Global Center for Sports Excellence and create sustainable economic development in the Adirondack Park, we're pleased to see such a strong team working together for the benefit of the people in New York's Olympic Region. It was one of the unintended consequences of the USA Luge bidding process.

Thanks to all the Team Lake Placid members who worked so hard to keep USA Luge here. You all help make the Olympic Region one of the best places to live and visit on Earth.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web