Van Hoe upgrades to start this spring

Adrian Hayden of Saranac Lake competes in a high school Nordic ski race at Mount Van Hoevenberg in January 2018. This facility is the state Olympic Regional Development Authority’s top priority for overhaul — a project expected to take two years and $40 million to $50 million. (Enterprise photo — Justine A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state budget was finalized this week, and in it, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority received $80 million in public funds.

ORDA has a large roster of venue improvements lined up for the next few years.

The first big upgrade on the horizon is at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex and Cross Country and Biathlon Center. Groundbreaking should start this spring, said Mike Pratt, ORDA CEO.

Upgrades include an alpine coaster, a transport coaster, more cross-country ski trails, a new welcome center lodge, an 8 million gallon snowmaking reservoir and storage structure and trailheads developed in conjunction with the state Department of Environmental Conservation that would connect the ski center to Van Hoe Cascade and Porter mountains. Most of these aspects would also be provided with updated lighting systems.

One of the larger projects will be a new biathlon stadium, which would be able to host competitions at the World Cup and International Biathlon Union levels. The trails connecting to the stadium would be smaller so that biathletes can loop by crowds and audiences more often.

Pratt said ORDA expects to have the new lodge and trails operational by the winter of 2021-22.

The venue already hosts cross-country competitions at the national level, and Pratt said he’s hoping the improvements will allow more in the future.

In a previous interview, Pratt said the upgrades at Van Ho would cost roughly $40 million to $50 million.

Other future venue upgrades include restructuring and improving the ski jumps at the Olympic Jumping Complex, repairing the elevator and stone masonry at the top of Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway, renovating the Olympic Center on Main Street, expanding the Discovery Lodge at the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in the Catskills and adding new trails to the Gore Mountain Ski Center in North Creek.

The venue upgrades will allow Lake Placid to host more international competitions and provide amenities for year-round casual tourism.

Some of the improvements are also in preparation for the 2023 World Winter University Games, an Olympic-style event from the International University Sports Federation that would have college students from around the world competing in winter sports such as biathlon, ski-jumping and hockey.


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