LAKE PLACID – Officials from America’s Luge and the International Luge Federation (FIL) made two important announcements Thursday as part of the state’s Olympic Regional Development Authority’s one-day tour of the facilities locations where athletes train for the Olympics.
In order to celebrate Olympic Day, which was Wednesday, stops were also made at the American Olympic and Paralympic Center and the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex, where VIPs and media met with athletes, coaches and managers in the sports of luge, bobsleigh, skeleton, biathlon and Nordic skiing.
Showcasing the newly renovated USA Luge headquarters on Church Street, Claire DelNegro, FIL vice president of artificial sports track, announced that Lake Placid will host a World Cup on December 4-5. It will be the first time in two years that the combined track of Mount Van Hoevenberg has hosted a World Cup; Luge and bobsleigh / skeleton competitions were canceled last winter due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are happy to see all the improvements happening here” said DelNegro, who competed in luge for Great Britain at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. “I would like to invite you all to come and see the toboggan in person on the track. It’s a very exciting sport, and I think you will all become big, big fans.
It was also announced that luge athletes will use Plattsburgh International Airport this winter for the first time. After competing in the World Cup in Whistler, Canada, the entire circuit will travel to Plattsburgh ahead of the Lake Placid World Cup and depart from the same airport as they will head to Europe for the next leg of the tour.
Thursday’s visit to USA Luge headquarters comes more than a year after an open house was canceled to unveil improvements due to the pandemic. Although it was not an open house, personalities and the media were invited to visit officials such as Jim Leahy, CEO of USA Luge, Gordy Sheer, Director of Marketing and Sponsorship and Mark Grimmette, director of sports programs.
The state’s $ 5 million upgrade reshaped the corporate headquarters. The original 8,400 square foot building was constructed in 1991 and the renovated 15,000 square foot building was completed in 2020. It now includes more office space, a fabrication shop to build sleds inside (instead of under a tent outside the old building), equipment rooms and a state-of-the-art refrigerated start-up facility.
“There is nothing like this installation in the world, and we are extremely proud” said Léahy. “It’s not just for our current athletes, but it’s for athletes for generations to come. Here we have a world class facility with world class work rooms, world class training at the Olympic Training Center. We have added a weight room. So we have all the resources here to ensure the success of our athletes.
The new starting track features two 230-foot ice ramps with four different angles, two down and two up. It is longer than the previous single start ramp, which only allowed athletes to remove the handles and paddle on the ice; that left no room for them to settle into the sled, which is an important part of training. The new ramps are long enough for athletes to get into their sleds. When they finish at the first ramp, they simply head to the second for another descent onto the ice.
Two-time Olympian Summer Britcher said she didn’t realize what she was missing until the new facility opened.
“This new facility is phenomenal. We are very grateful ”, Britcher said. “The longer ramps we have allow us to get the most out of our paddle training, and the ability to get into the sled is huge. For me personally, I have a very powerful pulling part at the start, but I was a bit weaker on the paddle aspect.
When state funding for USA Luge upgrades was announced in 2016, Empire State Development officials also said they would include $ 1 million for marketing, especially for television. World Cup events in Lake Placid.
“One of the things we need to do is provide a TV signal to host the World Cup races here in the United States”, Sheer said. “And New York State was kind enough to help us fund this … by putting out this signal for the rest of the world to see.”
USA Luge athletes began training for their next Olympic season on their new starting ramps in early May. The team are expected to train in Whistler and Europe in September, return to Lake Placid to train in October, and spend three weeks training on the Olympic track at the Yanqing Sliding Center outside of Beijing in November before the start of the World Cup season in November. 20-21.
The World Cup tour then heads to North America for two stops, Whistler and Lake Placid, before heading to Altenberg, Germany, and Igls, Austria, in December. After the Christmas holidays, the tour continues at four European stops: Königssee, Germany; Sigulda, Latvia; Oberhof, Germany; and St. Moritz, Switzerland.
The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held February 4-20 in Beijing, China.