Olympic venues opening slowly, with restrictions
LAKE PLACID — The state Olympic Regional Development Authority continues to open the doors of the region’s Olympic venues, with limited capacity and restrictions such as mandatory face coverings.
The gradual reopening of the Olympic sites comes more than four months after ORDA announced the closure of its venues in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, which usually offers activities in the summer such as scenic gondola rides and disc golf — is expected to open for the season soon, ORDA Vice President of Marketing and Sales Scott Christiansen said Wednesday, July 29. Details were not available by press time. ORDA was still waiting on approvals at the time.
“It’s a step at a time,” Christiansen said. “Little baby steps.”
The Lake Placid Olympic Museum and the ORDA Store, both located within the Olympic Center on Main Street, reopened on July 18. There is still no access to the 1980 Rink in the Herb Brooks Arena, site of the Miracle on Ice game between the U.S. and Soviet Union hockey teams during the 1980 Winter Olympics, but visitors can walk through the doors and see a video about the rink. The 1932 Rink in the Jack Shea Arena has been open for private ice skating lessons since late June. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday, and closed between noon and 1 p.m. for cleaning. Prepurchased tickets are required to visit the museum. The ORDA store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Monday.
A new Sky Flyer Zipline at the Olympic Jumping Complex opened on July 17. The new gondola at the complex is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, and the zipline is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Extreme tubing down the ski jump hills is not in operation at the time.
The Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg was opened up for hiking and mountain biking on July 3, but there is no access to the bobsled, luge and skeleton track. Hiking and mountain biking at Mount Van Hoevenberg is available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Construction continues on the new Mount Van Hoevenberg lodge, bobsled/skeleton start facility, mountain coaster and biathlon stadium.
“They’re looking good for meeting their November deadline,” Christiansen said about the construction.
The 5-mile Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway opened on June 20. The highway is open from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, and capacity is capped at 70 cars. There is currently no access to the elevator, the castle, hiking or the summit. The parking lot near the top does feature a food truck, the 4610′ Grill, according to whiteface.com. Whiteface is the state’s fifth highest peak at 4,867 feet.
ORDA has placed sanitizer stations at all of its venues, has bolstered its sanitization practices, and will be allowing a limited number of visitors into the Olympic Center at a time.
ORDA is encouraging visitors to buy tickets online before they arrive at lakeplacidolympicsites.com.
Two of the three ski centers ORDA operates recently opened.
Gore Mountain in North Creek opened for scenic skyrides, hiking, lift-serviced downhill mountain biking, and disc golf on July 16. The hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday during the summer. Retail and food service are also available. Visit goremountain.com for updated information about health and safety procedures.
Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills opened for scenic gondola rides, disc golf and hiking, along with the Belleayre Beach, on July 18. Hiking is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and gondola rides are available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The Belleayre Beach is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets for summer activities are available for purchase ahead on time online at www.belleayre.com.
Events at all ORDA events have been canceled until further notice. That includes the regular hockey camps at the Olympic Center and the annual Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp.
Still, ORDA officials are glad to have most of their venues open to visitors, even if there are restrictions and health mandates.
“We are under certain capacity controls, but it’s been great to see the enthusiasm,” Christiansen said.