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Lake Placid still relevant in today’s winter sports world

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LAKE PLACID — While the village has built its reputation on the past, Lake Placid is by no means obsolete in today’s athletic community.

Maintaining the venues from the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics to a high standard, as well as constructing some new venues, has kept the village as a destination for many competitors in the Sochi Olympics.

“It’s very rare there isn’t some (competition) going on,” said Jon Lundin, spokesman for the Lake Placid-based Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). “If it’s not a World Cup event, or an international event, it could be on the scale of a Can-Am hockey tournament. It’s very rare any time of the year when there is not an event.”

Lake Placid regularly hosts World Cup events or World Championships in bobsled, luge, skeleton and freestyle skiing. The Herb Brooks Arena is part of the rotation to host the men’s and women’s Four Nations Cup, and the ice rink also is the site of the men’s ECAC hockey tournament semifinals and final.

ORDA has to balance keeping the Olympic venues in condition to be relevant today without making major cosmetic changes from the original versions.

“It’s something we deal with every day here, and we wrestle with if we do make wholesale changes,” said Denny Allen, general manager of the Olympic Center. “We have to keep in mind that needs of the customers have changed in the last 30 years.”

The only 1980 venue that isn’t regularly used for World Cup events, aside from being part of the freestyle ski competition, is Whiteface Mountain.

That isn’t because the facility isn’t capable of holding a World Cup downhill event, but because hosting one essentially would shut down most of the facility for recreational skiers for a period of time.

ORDA has worked well with the state to raise money for venues, including building a new bobsled, luge and skeleton track on Mount Van Hoevenberg. Other venues added since 1980 include a moguls course at Whiteface Mountain.

“If Lake Placid’s venues were not up to snuff, those World Cup events would not be back, and we would not get them every year,” said Sandy Caligiore, spokesman for the U.S. luge team. “The fact these events keep coming back speaks to the level of upkeep the venues have gone through.”

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