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Local Sports

February 21, 2014

Lake Placid satisfies the need for speed

Like many of you, I’ve been watching the Olympics every night on television.

As I watched the women’s bobsled runs the other night, I recalled a time at Lake Placid.

My wife, Pat, and I had taken my father and our camper to Lake Placid for a week’s vacation. We did all of the normal things. We drove up the Memorial Highway to the top of Whiteface Mountain one day and rode the gondola up the ski area another.

One morning, we drove over to Mt. Van Hoevenberg, where the Olympic bobsled and luge tracks are located. This area is operated by the Olympic Regional Development Foundation.

The bobsled run is operated year-round. When the snow and ice are gone, they remove the runners from the sleds and put on steel wheels. Anyone over 4-feet tall can ride down the runs from the halfway point with a professional driver and reach speeds better than 50 miles an hour. But as luck would have it, the run was closed for maintenance and repairs and would not be running for a few days.

We tried to go into the main building there to see the displays, but that was closed, too. We peered into the windows and a man just happened to see us. He came to the door and explained that we were a week early but ...

And what a “but” that turned out to be.

The man represented a company that was installing a simulator, intended to give the same feeling one would get from riding on a luge, skeleton sled or bobsled all the way from the top. It was all installed and ready for testing, so he invited us to take the first run.

I chose the skeleton, Pat went for the luge and my dad climbed into the bobsled. We were each given a set of goggles with screens in front of our eyes.

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