In this Winter Olympic season, skiers' thoughts turn to previous Olympic venues. Lake Placid, N.Y. (tel. 800/44-PLACID or 800/447-5224; www.lakeplacid.com) is the only North American two-time Olympic site (1932 and 1980). It was also the last real mountain village, rather than a city, to host the entire Games: Alpine, Nordic skiing and ski jumping, hockey, skating, and all at venues within a very few miles. There was, of course, no freestyle skiing, snowboarding, or Paralympic competition in those distant days.
The ski races took place on Whiteface Mountain, a behemoth near Mt. Marcy, New York State's highest peak. The ski area's mammoth 3,430-foot skiable vertical is the greatest in the East, and the vast majority of its terrain is snowmaking-equipped.
The Cloudsplitter gondola rockets riders from the main base to the top of a subpeak called Little Whiteface, with just one intermediate run and the remaining trails decorated with single and even double diamonds. Skiers and snowboarders can ride a trio of upper lifts just to yoyo these challenging trails.
A couple of chairs angle off to Whiteface Mountain itself, New York State's fifth-highest summit. The Summit Quad continues from mid-mountain to the topmost terrain. There, skiers find additional steep trails, including the men's and women's Olympic downhill runs. It also accesses The Slides, a thousand vertical feet of challenging, backcountry-style area that snares new snow and can be the Northeast's closest approximation of Western skiing. It is open only when conditions permit, and skiers and riders must check out with the ski patrol before making the short hike to its entry.
Whiteface Mountain's true summit is a couple of hundred feet above the unloading area for the Summit Quad. Paron's to Excelsior provides a continuous intermediate run of uncommon length. Four lower-mountain lifts, including a surface lift, access the beginner, novice, and low-intermediate terrain. Kids Kampus povides fun and learning for small snowsliders on a gentle, set-apart slope.
And Lookout Mountain, Whiteface's third peak, enters its second season, skiers and riders are already anticipating 25 acres of sweet tree skiing in the Sugar Valley Glades.
The mountain is a mere ten miles from the Lake Placid Village, which is located along Mirror Lake (Lake Place itself is nearby). The free Mountain Valley ski shuttle has in the past linked mountain and town, but the contract for 2009-10 service had not been finalized at this writing, so inquire.
Lake Placid is located in 6-million-acre natural sanctuary called Adirondack Park, a beautiful landscape of 46 peaks, deep forests and abundant frozen lakes. The Lake Placid area is the epicenter for some of the best cross-country ski trail in the Northeast. Top winter athletes and hopefuls train and compete on its Olympic facilities, so there's often an ice show, ski jumping, bobsled, or luge to watch. World Cup bobsled and luge come to the Olympic track, Nov. 16-22, and the arena hosts the Division III men's national ice hockey championships, Mar. 19-20, coinciding with the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships at Whiteface, Mar. 19-22. And for sybaritic indoor pleasure, several spas pamper and restaurants of all stripes satisfy hunger and food cravings.
Lifts: 1 gondola, 1 high-speed detachable quad, 1 fixed-grip quad, 2 triples, 5 doubles, 1 surface lift; uphill capacity, 10,385 per hour
Vertical: 3.430 feet
Base elevation: 1,220 feet
Top elevation: 4.650 feet
Average Annual Snowfall: 168 inches
Skiable Terrain: 225 acres
Trails: 76 (20% beginner and novice; 36% intermediate; 44% advanced and expert)
Terrain parks: 1 park, 1 superpipe
Snowmaking: 220 acres
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