If selected, community would be involved in third Olympics
By James M. Odato
The Lake Placid-based authority that runs the state’s Olympic venues is vying for the right to host the 2026 Olympic Winter Games sliding events.
The unusual arrangement proposed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority follows a recent invitation from the Milano-Cortina 2026 Olympic organizing committee to entities interested in being the official venue for bobsled, skeleton and luge events in 2026.
The revelation that ORDA seeks selection to host the Winter Games at the Mount Van Hoevenberg sliding track came during a US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) meeting on Thursday in Stamford, Connecticut.
The leaders of the 2026 games disclosed in October that it would seek a venue outside Italy for the sliding sports. The Associated Press reported that the decision would likely result in athletes in the sliding sports competing in either Austria or Switzerland during the games.
Organizers in Italy seek to farm out the competition to cut costs of hosting the Olympics.
Sarah Hirshland, USOPC CEO, announced the bid was developed in collaboration with the Olympic authority. She said the authority is an “ideal candidate” offering a “compelling solution” to the needs of Italian organizers. “The organization in New York was excited about the prospect about supporting the 2026 Games,” she said.
She said officials running sliding facilities in Salt Lake City, Utah are not expected to bid, leaving the Adirondack Park venue without another US competitor.
Hirshland said it makes sense that the Lake Placid area be the site of the sliding sports because of the cultural richness of the region for winter athletic competitions dating to the 1932 Olympics and followed by the 1980 games.
Darcy Norfolk, a spokeswoman for the Olympic authority in Lake Placid, confirmed the authority’s bid. She said the authority expects to hear some response by the end of December. She said the USOPC put the bid in Dec. 1 after a request for proposals in November. World Cup sliding events are beginning Friday at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
The bid from the Olympic authority team includes options for housing for athletes at Paul Smith’s College or at more four hotels for some 300 to 400 people. Also, the pitch promotes the opportunity to get seven-hour, direct flights from Milan to New York City and how the after-games celebration could be conducted in Manhattan before return to Italy.
Gov. Kathy Hochul highlighted the history of New York as a destination for people from Italy. “We would be honored to provide the Milano Cortina 2026 with a solution that offers not only the assurance of knowing the sliding events are in good hands in a two-time Olympic host city, but an opportunity to tap into the largest media market in the world and one of the largest and most iconic outposts of the Italian diaspora,” Hochul wrote in a cover letter to the bid.
Her letter was followed by several others from elected officials, including Sen. Charles Schumer and mayors Eric Adams of New York City and Art Devlin of Lake Placid, and from sports organizations.
Norfolk said the Lake Placid site is an “ideal broadcast zone” for Italy’s TV viewing. The region’s proposal is competing with six other bidders she said, from European groups and from China.
Photo at top: USA Luge Championships in February 2020 at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex in Lake Placid. Photo by Mike Lynch
Editor’s note: This story was updated with additional bid information.