Forty years ago this February, the Adirondack village of Lake Placid hosted the 13th Olympic Winter Games. The U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team’s improbable win over the Russians, known as the “Miracle on Ice,” along with speed skater Eric Heiden’s five gold medals, helped make the 1980 Lake Placid Games one with an enduring legacy.
From February 14 – 23, the two-time Olympic village (the first winter games to be hosted outside of Europe took place in Lake Placid in 1932) is set to host a full slate of activities.
A torch lighting, ice skating around the historic Olympic Oval, to skiing with Olympic athletes is planned. There will be opportunities to meet several Olympic medalists including speed skater Dan Jansen (1984, 1988, 1992, 1994), alpine ski racer Andrew Weibrecht (2010, 2014, 2018), luger Mark Grimmette (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010), figure skater Paul Wylie (1992) and many more.
Lake Placid is one of only two cities world-wide to have hosted two Olympic Winter Games. It has since played host to annual World Cup events and other large-scale sporting competitions.
Lake Placid has sent at least one athlete to every winter Games, and in total, has sent over 100 athletes to compete, since the first modern winter Games in 1924. Other area athletes have also claimed Olympic glory, including Andrew Weibrecht, a two-time Olympic medalist in Super-G; Billy Demong, a two-time Olympic medalist and Olympic champion in Nordic Combined; and Chris Mazdzer, an Olympic silver medalist in men’s singles luge.
Recently, the State committed nearly $240-million in funding to support the Olympic Regional Development Authority properties. These investments are expected to improve infrastructure at Olympic venues and turn them into year-round attractions.
The following highlights just some of the events planned. More activities are being added on a weekly basis. More information, a schedule, and updates, is available online.
- Torch run with 1980 Olympic Winter Games torchbearers and local athletes, followed by lighting of the 1980 Olympic Cauldron on the grounds of the Opening Ceremonies. State and local officials and past, present and future Olympians will be part of the ceremony.
- Speaking engagement and meet and greet with speed skater and medalist Dan Jansen
- First tracks at Whiteface Mountain with Olympic medalist Andrew Weibrecht
- Learn to Luge with Olympic lugers and coaches
- Be a Biathlete! Experience the sport of biathlon with Olympic biathletes
- Athlete forum on Lake Placid’s Olympic Legacy with a Q&A featuring some of Lake Placid’s Olympians
- Screening of the Disney movie Miracle at Lake Placid’s Palace Movie Theatre.
- Cross-country or downhill ski with Olympians at Whiteface Mountain and Mount Van Hoevenberg
- Book signing by Wayne Coffey, author of The Boys of Winter, an account of the “Miracle on Ice”
- 80’s Family Fun Party at the Olympic Ski Jumps and other venues
- 80’s themed trivia night
- Learn the sport of curling on Mirror Lake
- Vintage wine tasting at Terry Robards Wine & Spirits
- Olympic-themed crafts for kids
Enjoy the “fun zone” on Main Street each evening between 4 and 6 pm where visitors can enjoy hot chocolate, s’mores, games, music and more. Restaurants, bars and shops will be celebrating too with live music and events.
Along with these special events, guests can experience Olympic-themed activities by skating on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval or barreling down the Mt. Van Hoevenberg bobsled/luge/skeleton track. Adventurous guests can ride a toboggan down a 30-foot high slide that’s specifically designed to launch riders across Mirror Lake’s icy surface.
Photo of Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum provided by ROOST.
A version of this article first appeared on the Adirondack Almanack.