Fate of Lake Placid’s 2026 Sliding Center Bid?

IOC pushes back on Italy’s plan to rebuild Olympic sliding track

Cover of Lake Placid’s bid to host the 2026 Olympic sliding events

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The International Olympic Committee is still not impressed with Italy’s determination to spend about $90 million rebuilding a historic bobsled track for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

The IOC’s latest statement Wednesday, Jan. 31, on the public rift came one day after local organizers of the Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo Olympics moved ahead with a plan to revive a century-old sliding track in the Dolomites ski resort.

Aiming to avoid construction costs and potential white elephant venues, the IOC wants the winter games opening in just two years’ time to use an existing track — with two nearby options in St. Moritz, Switzerland and Igls, Austria.

The issue has become one of Italian national pride to avoid paying another country to stage 12 of the 116 medal events.

“The IOC firmly believes that the existing number of sliding centers, globally, is sufficient for the current number of athletes and competitions in the sports of bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton,” the Olympic body said in a statement.

The IOC’s opposition to an Italian renewal project on such a tight schedule — either at Cortina or Cesana, the now-closed sliding track at the 2006 Turin Olympics that was previously considered — has been publicly clear since its annual meeting in October held in Mumbai, India.

“(Only) existing and already operating tracks should be considered due to the very tight timeline remaining,” the IOC said in a statement, stating it had been “unequivocal that no permanent venue should be built without a clear and viable legacy plan.”

Italy’s deputy prime minister detailed his country’s position Tuesday.

“It is not acceptable for the bobsled races to take place outside Italy,” Antonio Tajani said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “We will do everything to achieve the goal.”

Still, the Italian organizing committee aims to have a back-up plan if renovating the Cortina track used at the 1956 Winter Games is not ready by March next year.

The committee said after a board meeting Tuesday its plans rest on signing a contract with a Parma-based construction company that has offered to rebuild the Cortina track for 81.6 million euros ($89 million).

If the contract for the sliding center is signed “it would confirm the original masterplan” for the Olympics, the Milan-Cortina committee said, adding that the new venue “would revive Cortina’s long tradition in these sports and help future generations.”

Construction would start with less than two years to go before the Milan-Cortina Games — and less than a year before IOC-mandated test events. No sliding track has been built recently in such a short timeframe and test events have taken on even greater importance following the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in a training crash hours before the start of the opening ceremony for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“Considering the negative views of the IOC and the international federations, which are concerned about the timeframe that the project would require, and considering advice from SIMICO (the company in charge of infrastructure for the games), the board has decided not to interrupt dialogue with other existing and functioning venues,” the local organizing committee said, adding that it has asked chairman Andrea Varnier “to continue negotiations for an eventual Plan B that would require added budget.”

The Milan-Cortina committee added that it realizes that “under no circumstances” can the new track be certified after March 2025.

Lake Placid’s bid

On Dec. 1, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee submitted New York state’s bid for Lake Placid to host the sliding competitions for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games at Milano-Cortina, Italy.

Two months earlier, 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 earlier. That prompted IOC officials to begin looking for an alternative outside Italy.

Given this week’s decision by Italy’s 2026 Olympic organizers, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority issued a statement on Tuesday.

“Lake Placid congratulates Milano Cortina 2026 on its decision to rebuild the sliding track in Cortina and looks to be a supportive partner to the Milano Cortina Organizing Committee as they get ready for the 2026 Winter Games,” ORDA Communications Director Darcy Norfolk said in a statement. “Lake Placid with its active and competitive sliding track and similar Olympic history, submitted a budget-friendly, compelling proposal in collaboration with New York City, and stands ready to make its facilities available for the sliding events if necessary.”

While Norfolk acknowledged the AP’s reporting on Austria or Switzerland being the IOC’s preferred sliding hosts, she said the Lake Placid’s bid committee had not been told that information.

“We’ve also heard about some of the deficiencies with some of those tracks, too,” she said. “There is a lot more to this, and we’re kind of in this waiting game still.”

Starting at $1.44/week.

Subscribe Today