Report #18 from Sacagawea: Sept. 12, 2001



Welcome to Lake Placid!
Greeting 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 Center.

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.

Lake 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 Team:
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 Winter Olympics:
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 die for.

Ulysses: And desserts! You forgot to mention desserts.

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!

Olympic Bobsled Run:
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 Run?
In 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!

Sacagawea: 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 street.

Speed Skating & Figure Skating:
On 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 Olympic Museum:
Also, 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.

Next Stop!
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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