Welcome to Lake
from beautiful Lake Placid, New York. Located deep in the Adirondack
Mountains, it is the home of the United States Olympic Training
Center for Winter Sports. Photo:
Mary and me at the entrance to the United States Olympic Training
Olympic Ski Jump:
Two massive ski jumps dominate the skyline
as you enter this small mountain hamlet. Yes, they DO practice Nordic
ski jumping during the summer! The jumps at the MacKenzie-Intervale
Ski Jumping Complex are covered with special porcelain kept constantly
wet to make the jump slick enough for the skiers. The boys wear
wet suits, even on the hottest days, while they leap incredible
distances to land on plastic Astroturf. The wet suits protect their
skin from being scraped by the plastic material. I think I much
prefer to WALK down the mountain side.
Placid was the site of the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics and
the various sites are still in use year round by both the athletes
and tourists alike. While visitors are not allowed to jump off the
ski jumps, we were able to ride the ski lift chairs then an elevator
to the top of the 120 meter jump. The view is breath-taking! They
say you can see over 30 miles on a clear day. Photo:
Postcard of Ski Jumping.
Women's Olympic Hockey
There was a lot of excitement at the new Olympic
Training Center when we arrived. Forty-two hopeful young women were
in the final days of their tryouts for the Olympic Women's Ice Hockey
team that will compete next February at the 2002 Winter Games in
Salt Lake City, Utah.
The women ranged in age from 16 to 31, with
many of the veterans of the gold medal 1998 Olympic team returning.
In fact, the sixteen-year-old player made the cut to the selected
25 members. There will be one more cut to the final team of 20 in
early February. The sixteen-year-old is taking off a semester from
her junior year in high school. While we were admiring the training
facilities and the workout rooms, a television crew arrived to do
a story on the hockey tryouts.
New Sports in the 2002
There will be two new sports introduced at
the 2002 Games: Women's Bobsled and Skeleton.
Never heard of skeleton?
It's like the luge, however, instead of sliding down an icy chute
feet first, the skeleton crew go down on their stomachs -- head
first! The athletes are practicing on the luge run at Mount Van
Hoevenberg just outside Lake Placid. How do they do it in the summer?
On sleds with wheels! When we saw the skeleton team they were on
their way to lunch at the Training Center's Cafeteria. No bumps
on anyone's head -- so far!
Speaking of the Cafeteria,
the one at the Training Center is open twenty-four hours a day --
but only to the athletes and their coaches. The rest of us can only
look through the glass wall and drool. They have a salad bar to
Ulysses: And desserts! You forgot to mention
Sacagawea: I am sorry, my general, but I
am on a diet. I tried not to stare at the desserts. But yes, they
looked too wonderful!
Back at Mount Van Hoevenberg, we saw the Olympic
Bobsled Run. Do you remember the movie "Cool Runnings"
about the bobsled team from Jamaica? They practice right here at
Mount Van Hoevenberg. This Caribbean-based team is getting really
good, too. The run is very impressive with some of the turns banked
at nearly 45 degree angles from the ground. Bobsledders usually
enter the last curve on the run at 90 miles per hour!
Mary on the Bobsled
the summer, very brave tourists can take a bobsled ride on the last
half mile of the run while sitting inside specially designed sleds
on wheels. This is how the team practices in the summer. Mary is
very anxious to do this hair-raising stunt, but Marty, the generals,
and I talked her out of it for THIS year.
Mary: But there is always NEXT summer!
Besides we had to hurry to downtown Lake Placid where we were meeting
Mary Sue and Michael Seymour, Mary's literary agent and her husband
who live year-round in the North Country. Photo:
Postcard of the town of Lake Placid. Despite being the center for
the U.S. Winter Sports, it is a very small village with one main
Speed Skating & Figure
the way to lunch, we passed the speed skating oval track located
on the playing fields of the Lake Placid High School. The students
use the track for running in the warmer months, but once the temperatures
dip below freezing, the track is iced for the speedsters. We also
passed the main Olympic Center dominating the town. It houses three
ice rinks in use all the time. As I said, the Women's Hockey team
was using the facility during the day, while the figure skaters
vied for ice time on the third rink. All the great American skaters
have practiced here at Lake Placid.
Lake Placid Winter
the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum is located at the ice arena.
It was very interesting to see photos, uniforms, videos, and equipment
used by the Olympians of 1932 and 1980. I especially liked seeing
all the medals awarded to the best of the athletes. After visiting
the museum, we hurried to keep our luncheon date.
Off to Lunch!
Mary Sue liked me so much that Mary let one
of my sisters go home with her. I think this is very appropriate
since I originally came from the northern woods of Montana. Photo:
Mary Sue Seymour, Mary, and me at lunch in Lake Placid.
Abe: Few people realize the infamous abolitionist
John Brown lived near Lake Placid. After his death in 1859, he was
buried here amid the peaceful mountains of upstate New York. In
our next report, we will tell you more about him.
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