Olympic glory still shines at Adirondack festival

THE BALTIMORE SUN

You missed Salt Lake, and the weak dollar puts Turin, Italy, out of your price range next year. What's a Winter Olympics fan to do?

Go to Lake Placid, N.Y., next month and relive the magic of 1980.

The village of 2,600 tucked in the Adirondack Mountains is having a festival Feb. 12-27 to mark the silver anniversary of the 1980 Winter Games that includes activities at all of the original venues.

Skate the outdoors rink where Eric Heiden won all five speed skating events. Cheer in the arena where a hockey "miracle" happened. Ski the runs where Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark captured the slalom and giant slalom gold medals.

The Olympic spirit is part of Lake Placid's fiber and landscape, from the twin ski jumps that mark the edge of town to the autographed posters and photographs on the walls of restaurants and shops along Main Street. It is one of only three communities (the others are St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Innsbruck, Austria) to twice be chosen for the Winter Games.

"I think there's a real core of Olympics aficionados in town, and rightfully so. Everybody's got an opinion. Everybody's got a story," said Sandy Caligiore, spokesman for the Olympic Regional Development Authority, who was the local radio play-by-play man for the legendary United States vs. Soviet Union hockey game, in which the U.S. team skated to an improbable gold medal.

The anniversary celebration will begin, as all Olympics do, with an opening ceremony and the lighting of the original Olympic torch. Athletes participating in that weekend's 2005 World Cup bobsled and skeleton competitions will be on hand, and the winners will receive their medals and stand atop the Olympic podium.

The rest of the month is filled with torchlight parades, skiing parties and lift-ticket discounts, and events with the stars of the 1980 Games.

Scott Hamilton, who carried the U.S. flag at the opening ceremony, figure skater Linda Fratianne, the silver medallist, skiing brothers Phil and Steve Mahre, and Mike Eruzione of the hockey team have agreed to appear.

"That is the core group, but we hope to be adding to it," said Caligiore. "In each instance, we want to get the athletes with the fans."

Organizers have arranged plenty of how-to sessions. Members of the Lake Placid Biathlon Club will be teaching cross-country skiing and rifle shooting at the 1980 venue. Bobsled drivers will be taking folks on exhilarating rides down the icy chute, where the East German team broke the mile-a-minute barrier on the way to a gold medal.

The village will have plenty of non-Olympic activities, too, such as tobogganing on Mirror Lake and dogsled rides.

And there will be activities for visitors who don't want to embrace the cold outdoors. Adults can enjoy a retro '80s party at the Whiteface Mountain lodge. And for kids, Disney on Ice is presenting "Toy Story II" at the Olympic Center, Feb. 17-20.

The family can learn about the 1932 and 1980 Winter Games at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, located steps from the 1980 "Miracle" rink. Olympic torches and video and audio clips take you back to those days. The museum also displays the first gold medal awarded in a Winter Games, won by U.S. speed skater and Lake Placid native Charlie Jewtraw at the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix, France.

Area hotels are offering midweek and nonholiday packages that include a $25 lift ticket. Anniversary organizers are selling a $25 passport, which resembles a 1980 accreditation badge, that allows the holder into many Olympic venues.

WHEN YOU GO

Getting there: Lake Placid is about eight hours from Baltimore by car. Take I-95 north to the Garden State Parkway. Take the New York Thruway to I-87 north to Exit 30. It's 28 miles to Lake Placid along Route 9 and then Route 73.

Southwest Airlines flies to Albany, which is a 2 1/2 -hour drive from Lake Placid.

Information

For a 25th anniversary schedule of events at Lake Placid: www.orda.org.

For lodging and other information, contact the Lake Placid/Essex County Convention and Visitors Bureau: 518-523-2445 or www.lakeplacid.com.

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