LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) _ In six months, this community of about 3,000 that played host to two Winter Olympics and the Olympic Trials will welcome the first Winter Goodwill Games which will include snowboarding events.
After staging the 1932 and 1980 Olympics, some of Lake Placid’s competition sites suffered from disuse and lack of funding. The success of the 1998 Olympic Trials prompted the Olympic Regional Development Authority to refurbish venues for the Goodwill Games, which run Feb. 17-20.
Among the improvements is a state-of-the-art luge, bobsled and skeleton track slated to open in December and a gondola lift set to debut this winter at nearby Whiteface Mountain. The upgrades and Lake Placid’s Olympic legacy helped convince Turner Broadcasting to come to upstate New York for the first winter version of the international competition it has staged four times in the summer.
“It was an easy choice to come to Lake Placid due to the enthusiasm of the people and ORDA, and the support of New York Governor (George E.) Pataki,” Goodwill Games president Mike Plant said. “Ted Turner’s thought originally was to use sport to create peace and harmony in the world. We have accomplished this through elite level athletics.” The Turner formula invites world class athletes in a finals-only format for prize money. Training takes place Feb. 15-16.
“I am really excited about these games,” 1998 Olympic luge doubles silver medalist Gordy Sheer of Croton, N.Y., said. “It will be great to compete in the U.S. again. I can’t remember the last time we had a big race here. We always compete in Europe. Its important to have them see a little of what we experience every season.”
Freestyle skier Eric Bergoust of Missoula, Mont., a gold medalist at Nagano, Japan last winter, said, “Lake Placid is my home away from home. I have trained here for seven years. This will be the biggest event I’ll ever compete in in my home country.” In addition to bobsled, luge and skeleton, the games will feature Alpine, cross-country and freestyle skiing; figure skating; Nordic combined; short-track speedskating; ski jumping and snowboarding.
All competition sites are within a 10-mile radius of Lake Placid. Turner Broadcasting’s TNT network plans 16 hours of television coverage.