Will Lake Placid host a third Olympics?
US bid proposes NY host sliding events for Italy’s 2026 Games
LAKE PLACID — Salt Lake City, Utah, may be the International Olympic Committee’s preferred host city for the 2034 Olympic Winter Games, but Olympic competition could actually be coming back to the Adirondack Park in just over two years.
New York state and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee officials are hoping to bring a third Winter Olympics to Lake Placid in 2026 — part of it anyway — partnering with New York City.
On Dec. 1, the USOPC submitted New York state’s bid for Lake Placid to host the sliding competitions for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games at Milano-Cortina, Italy.
In October, the Italian organizers said they would not be able to hold Olympic sliding events for luge, bobsled and skeleton in 2026 because it would be too costly to rebuild the historic Eugenio Monti track in Cortina d’Ampezzo, which was used for the 1956 Olympics and shut down 15 years ago. International Olympic Committee officials instead are looking for an alternative outside Italy.
USOPC officials discussed Lake Placid’s bid Thursday, Dec. 7 during a media call after their board meeting in Stamford, Connecticut. USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland called a possible partnership with Lake Placid, New York City and Milano-Cortina an “unforgettable and culturally rich location for sliding sports.”
“The USOPC stands firmly behind this bid effort and believes that their proposal presents a compelling solution to host an extraordinary Olympic and Paralympic experience,” she said. “We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate and support the effort to bring these prestigious events to the United States and are eager to understand the decision by Milano-Cortina.”
If the bid is accepted, the 2026 Games would be the first in Winter Olympic history to have events held outside the host nation.
Yet, on Wednesday, Dec. 6, the Associated Press reported that Italy’s sports minister is “more than confident” that the 2026 sliding events will take place in Cortina d’Ampezzo, even though IOC officials are insisting organizers look for a venue outside the country. A scaled-down plan for the Cortina track renovation was discussed on Dec. 6 at a local organizing committee meeting.
“We’ll look at it in the next few days with (finance minister Giancarlo) Giorgetti and we’ll unravel the knots, I’m more than confident,” Minister for Sport Andrea Abodi told the AP when asked if sliding events could still be held in Cortina.
In November, National Olympic Committees around the world were encouraged to submit bids to host the 2026 sliding events on existing tracks. Given that Lake Placid’s combined state-of-the-art track is only 24 years old — and that it is still being used for World Cup events — state Olympic Regional Development Authority officials wrote a 50-page bid to host the 2026 Olympic sliding events at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
The state recently spent millions of dollars updating the facilities at Mount Van Hoevenberg, including the construction of the Mountain Pass Lodge, which has a start facility for bobsled and skeleton. ORDA operates the venue. USA Luge also has a new start facility at its renovated headquarters on Church Street in Lake Placid.
The 2026 Sliding Center Bid includes a Nov. 29 letter from Gov. Kathy Hochul to USPOC leaders officially submitting the bid.
“New York’s storied Olympic history — kept alive through significant investments in ORDA’s world-class facilities and a steady stream of high-caliber competitions in Lake Placid — provides a ready and proven solution for the sliding sports in 2026,” Hochul wrote. “The State of New York and Lake Placid are seasoned in hosting international events. Since hosting its first Winter Olympics Games in 1932, Lake Placid has been a stage for the world’s elite sporting events. The international appeal and world-class events continue today with hundreds of championships and competitions including the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Winter this past January.”
Lake Placid also hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics and the 2000 Winter Goodwill Games. The current sliding track was built for the 2000 Games.
Leaning heavily on New York’s legacy in winter sports and its historic and current roles in the Olympic movement, ORDA CEO Ashley Walden — a U.S. luge Olympian — made a hard sell for Lake Placid.
“What is unparalleled is the Lake Placid experience — our world-famous and technically demanding track, the pristine setting in the Adirondack Mountains, our community’s rich expertise in welcoming large international competitions, and an infrastructure to reliably host events even amid challenging weather conditions,” Walden wrote. “Using an existing facility such as ours at Mt Van Hoevenberg aligns with the IOC’s sustainability goals, and the recent improvements at the venue and throughout our New York Olympic Region, ensure a successful execution of this exciting opportunity. Lake Placid will extend the Olympic spirit of Milano Cortina 2026 further than we knew was possible, all while honoring our role as a secondary partner location.”
New York state approach
Lake Placid’s 2026 Sliding Center Bid highlights a number of amenities for travelers and athletes in different villages and cities across the state.
Airports listed for travelers span from Lake Placid to Lake Clear, Plattsburgh (one hour), Montreal (two hours), Albany (two-and-a-half hours) and New York City (four-and-a-half hours). Plattsburgh International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens would be used for athlete and sled transportation.
In addition to Mount Van Hoevenberg being listed as the sliding sports venue, Lake Placid is targeted as a site for an Athlete Village, celebration center, ceremonies, accommodations and transportation. Flower ceremonies following each competition would be held at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
Saranac Lake is listed for accommodations and transportation, and Paul Smith’s College is targeted for accommodations, transportation and an alternative site for the Athlete Village.
New York City is also listed as a place for transportation and a celebration center at Rockefeller Center, which would be the only venue for the sliding sports’ medal ceremonies. After the medal ceremonies for luge, bobsled and skeleton, the athletes would fly back to Italy for the closing ceremony.
The bid states that Lake Placid has about 3,000 rooms in privately-owned hotels and rental properties, and surrounding towns and cities have an additional 6,000 rooms. Lake Placid would provide accommodations for athletes, delegation and technical officials, Olympic family, media, volunteers and spectators.
The bid outlines two possible scenarios for accommodations for athletes and delegations at an Athlete Village. In all, 720 beds would be needed for athletes and delegations, and 732 beds would be needed for Games’ stakeholders.
Concept A for the Athlete Village is a combination of Paul Smith’s College and the USOPC Training Center in Lake Placid for beds and catering facilities. Concept B relies on hotels in Lake Placid, with Team USA and Team Italy staying at the Training Center, and any remaining accommodations and temporary housing would be provided by properties in surrounding communities. If Concept B is chosen, the bid proposes using the Lake Placid Conference Center for the Athlete Village, and it would be used as the main dining hall for athletes.
In 2026, Olympic luge athletes will compete in men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed team-relay events. Bobsled athletes will compete in women’s monobob, two-woman, two-man and four-man events. And skeleton athletes will compete in men’s and women’s events.
The bid’s proposed schedule for athlete air travel and sled shipping for the 2026 Olympic sliding sports is listed below. Only bobsled and skeleton athletes would attend the opening ceremony in Italy, not luge athletes, according to the bid, but all sliders would attend the closing ceremony in Milan.
¯ Monday, Feb. 2: Luge athletes and sleds arrive via charter to Plattsburgh.
¯ Tuesday, Feb. 3: Freight flight for bobsled and skeleton sleds to JFK.
¯ Friday, Feb: 6: Bobsled/skeleton athletes attend the opening ceremony.
¯ Saturday, Feb. 7: Bobsled/skeleton athletes charter to Plattsburgh from Milan.
¯ Thursday Feb. 12: Luge athletes depart to NYC (medal ceremony); charter to Milan with sleds.
¯ Saturday, Feb. 14: Skeleton athletes depart to NYC (medal ceremony); charter to Milan with sleds.
¯ Monday, Feb. 16: Women’s mono/2-man medal ceremony (NYC); 2-man/mono bobsleds depart to JFK.
¯ Saturday, Feb. 21: Bobsled athletes depart; charter flight to Milan from Plattsburgh to attend the closing ceremony on Feb. 22.
¯ Sunday, Feb. 22: 2-man/4-man bobsleds depart for JFK.
Scheduled, proposed events
Lake Placid is already on the schedule to host the IBSF Bobsled and Skeleton World Championships in March 2025. The bid proposes adding several other test events, such as an international training period for luge in November 2025, an FIL Luge World Cup in December 2025, an international training period for bobsled and skeleton in December 2025 and an IBSF Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup in December 2025.
Letters of support were provided in the bid from a number of organizations: USA Bobsled/Skeleton CEO Aron McGuire, USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, state Assemblyman Billy Jones (115th District), state Assemblyman Robert Carroll (44th District), state Sen. Dan Stec, village of Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin, town of North Elba Deputy Town Supervisor Emily Kilburn Politi, city of New York Mayor Eric Adams, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO Jim McKenna, Adirondack North Country Sports Council Executive Director Tracy Smith and Lake Placid Olympic Museum Director Courtney Bastian.
“As an active venue and home of our National Governing Body, Lake Placid is well poised to hosting the sliding sports on behalf of Milano Cortina,” Leahy wrote in his letter of support.
Lake Placid is hosting the FIL Luge World Cup today and Saturday.
“Despite the unfortunate circumstance of the sliding sports not taking place in Italy, based on our past experience of hosting bobsled and skeleton events in Lake Placid, I have full confidence that the local organizing committee and volunteers will ensure that the athletes receive the Olympic experience they rightly deserve,” McGuire wrote in his letter of support.
Lake Placid is hosting an IBSF Bobsled/Skeleton World Cup in March 2024.
“I know that Lake Placid and New York City have the organizational capabilities and event experience to provide an exceptional cross-nation experience for the sliding athletes of the 2026 Olympic Winter Games,” Schumer wrote in his letter of support.
Lake Placid’s 2026 Sliding Center Bid does not go into detail about the cost of hosting the luge, bobsled and skeleton events for the Milano Cortina Games.
“Lake Placid is pleased to offer the venue, existing venue staff and utilities at no cost,” the bid states.
The only financial considerations for Lake Placid include athlete and delegation transportation from Lake Placid to New York City, venue fees, staff, utilities and backup power generation at Mount Van Hoevenberg, backup power generation at the Lake Placid Conference Center, ancillary costs at the New York City Celebration Center and opening ceremony at Lake Placid, cultural aspects, dry land training facilities and capital investment in the track.
The reason the New York Legislature formed ORDA in 1981 to operate the Olympic venues — including the Olympic Center arenas, ski jumps and Mount Van Hoevenberg sliding tracks — was to get rid of the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee’s debt incurred from the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. At the time Gov. Hugh Carey signed legislation creating the Olympic Authority on July 7, 1981, the LPOOC’s debt was estimated between $6 and $8.5 million.
Lake Placid Sliding Center Bid committee members believe there may be up to five potential bids across the world for the 2026 Olympic sliding events, including tracks at Igls, Austria; St. Moritz, Switzerland; and Beijing, China.
The sliding center at Park City, Utah, used for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games and subsequent national and international competitions does not have a bid for the 2026 Olympic sliding events, even after the IOC said recently that Salt Lake is the preferred host city for the 2034 Winter Olympics.