Going places: New York skiers benefit from $552 million investment in winter tourism

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Going places: New York skiers benefit from $552 million investment in winter tourism

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

This week, New York State’s Olympic facilities at Lake Placid are hosting the FISU World University Games, welcoming 1,443 collegiate-athletes plus coaches and fans from more than 540 universities and 46 nations. The games, going on until January 22, feature competition in 12 winter sports and 85 events including skiing and snowboarding, curling, figure skating, ice hockey and speed skating in venues throughout the Adirondack North Country in Lake Placid as well as Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Potsdam, Canton and North Creek. (The competition schedule and tickets to the events are available here.)

The prestigious event is an opportunity to showcase to the world the state’s world-class Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) facilities, enhanced with a six-year, $552 million investment to help maintain the region’s standing as a world-class winter sport destination fitting for an Olympic-sized event, for the lasting benefit of New York’s $16.1 billion winter tourism industry, which last year welcomed 68.5 million visitors.

“We made transformative investments to renovate the Lake Placid Olympic Center, revitalized our airports, improved our roads and bridges and grew our regional sports infrastructure to ensure that Lake Placid is well-positioned to host the games,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.

“The event will once again put Lake Placid on a global stage, drawing thousands of visitors to the region and inviting millions more to watch the games via ESPN in the United States, TSN in Canada and FISU TV. For many, it will be the first time they’ll see the bold and picturesque Adirondack Mountains, vibrant downtown Lake Placid and our world-class Olympic Regional Development Authority ski areas and venues. And these games offer a chance to showcase the New York’s thriving winter tourism industry.”

Special events like the World University Games that spark additional travel generate even more spending in our restaurants, hotels and businesses, supporting jobs in a hospitality industry still rebuilding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. State-supported ORDA venues are open year-round for events, athlete training and recreation. Once the World University Games have finished, these same facilities will host this winter season the World Cup in Ski Jumping, NCAA Alpine and Cross-Country Skiing Championships, Synchronized Figure Skating World Championships. The Bobsled Skeleton World Championships will follow in February 2025, and IBU Biathlon Cups are planned in February and March 2026.

New York State has made significant investments in the North Country totaling $552 million over the last six years in preparation for the World University Games and ongoing support for the competitive sports infrastructure and regional tourism. Investments have helped to renovate facilities owned and operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, including the $104 million renovation of the Lake Placid Olympic Center, and $7 million overhaul of the Saranac Lake Civic Center.

The improvements are a legacy that will be enjoyed by New York’s skiers and winter visitors for years to come.

ORDA has been steadily improving snowmaking infrastructure throughout its ski areas. These upgrades have enabled the mountains to open terrain faster and earlier in the season. The modernized systems, which utilize energy more effectively, also are a key part of ORDA’s award-winning sustainability initiatives: solar energy at the alpine venues, state of the art snowmaking equipment that significantly reduces water and energy use, EV charging stations, e-zambonis and hybrid grooming equipment, LED lighting.

Indeed, in conjunction with the FISU Games, a World Conference was convened to share information about the initiatives and actions they have implemented to mitigate climate change and save winter from global warming. From venue design and infrastructure to sustainably sourced items to the LED torch and flameless cauldron, the Host Partners and New York State set a new standard for a commitment to the environment for future events.

Improved Winter Facilities at ORDA Venues

This winter, New Yorkers and the rest of the world will enjoy upgrades, renovations, snowmaking improvements to ORDA-operated ski venues: Gore Mountain in North Creek, Belleayre Mount in Highmount, Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington and Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid.

Gore Mountain: New this season is Backwoods, an intermediate trail that begins at the top of Burnt Ridge Mountain and parallels the Barkeater Glades. The trail ends uphill of Roaring Brook Bridge and provides faster and more direct access to Little Gore Mountain and the North Creek Ski Bowl. Over 230 new high-efficiency snow guns have been installed on Backwoods, Showcase, Uncas, Paradox, Peaceful Valley, and Chatiemac. For the FISU Games, crews developed the sanctioned slopestyle and boardercross courses, enhanced snowmaking and widened the terrain. The FIS-certified race trail, Echo, was also bolstered with increased snowmaking capacity to accommodate the venue’s busy calendar of alpine events and recreational skiers and riders throughout the season. (goremountain.com, Gore Mountain Snow Report)

Whiteface Mountain: New this season is the Ausable Run, a beginner trail off the Warhorse Quad lift, and Yellow Dot, an expert trail connecting the top of Victoria to Lower Skyward. Whiteface installed 35,000 feet of new pipe, 160 high-efficiency snow guns and 245 new hydrants and added two new Pisten Bully groomers. After hosting Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games alpine competitions, Whiteface will host the NCAA Regionals and National Championship in Alpine, the Empire State Games and other regional races. The mountain will be open to the public during the event dates for skiing and riding, and spectators can view the events in the newly designed Andrew Weibrecht Finish Area. Additional improvements to the race area include enhancements to the Freeway lift, timing and radio systems, and power to the finish building. (whiteface.com, Whiteface Mountain Snow Report)

Belleayre Mountain installed 60,000 additional feet of new pipe, a new snowmaking pump and added 300 high-efficiency snow guns. A new retail space relocated upstairs on the main floor of Discovery Lodge provides guests with a renewed shopping experience with a view. (belleayre.com, Belleayre Mountain Snow Report.

Mt. Van Hoevenberg: The Mt Van Hoevenberg transformation was completed in 2020, providing a world-class facility and 5 km of World Championship-rated cross-country skiing trails for training and racing. The trails carry tremendous snowmaking power, from the number of high-efficiency snow guns and hydrants to its reservoir capacity, providing state-of-the-art snowmaking for a Nordic Center. Thanks to the state’s investment ORDA will host multiple World Cup competitions. Mt Van Hoevenberg was recently awarded the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Cup for 2026. This is in addition to the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup in Bobsled and Skeleton taking place at the Mt Van Hoevenberg Sliding Center December 16-18, and at its sister venue, the Olympic Jumping Complex, the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup will return this winter, February 10-12, 2023. For non-competitive athletes, Mt. Van Hoevenberg offers some of the most exciting opportunities to feel like an Olympian: a state-of-the-art combined skeleton and bobsled track and North America’s longest mountain coaster, The Cliffside Coaster. 50km of cross country skiing trails, you can even try your hand at the biathalon. There is also a new Mountain Pass Lodge. (mtvanhoevenberg.com, Mt Van Hoevenberg Snow Report)

The SKI3 Season Pass provides the greatest flexibility and savings for skiing and riding at Whiteface, Belleayre, and Gore. Single day tickets are also at the lowest prices of the season and should be purchased in advance to secure desired days this winter.

“Winter is always an amazing time to travel in New York, which has more ski areas than any other state in the nation,” said Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi. “ORDA’s world class ski facilities, along with scores of private ski areas across the state, make for an unparalleled ski experience. When paired with activities from snowmobiling and winter carnivals to ice wine tastings and spa getaways to the FISU World University Games, visitors can come be a part of the ultimate winter wonderland and find what they love in New York State.”

Information on skiing and other winter activities statewide is available at iloveny.com/winter and iskiny.com. Updated downhill and cross-country ski reports for all of New York State, courtesy of Ski NY and Cross-Country Ski Areas of NY, are available on 1-800-ILOVENY and linked on iloveny.com.

Parks & Trails NY Opens Registration for Cycle the Erie Canal and Inaugural Hudson Valley Bike Trips

Meanwhile, Parks & Trails NY is properly showcasing its most significant success in advocacy for repurposing disused rail lines into bikeways, multi-purpose recreational trails and greenways: the Empire State Trail – a network of 750 miles of multi-purpose trails and marked roadways that include the 350-miles of the Erie Canalway and 400 miles stretching north-south, from Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan to the Canadian border.

PTNY is now accepting registrations for its 25th Anniversary Cycle the Erie Canal 2023, eight-day, 400-mile adventure from Buffalo to Albany, taking place July 9-16, and its Inaugural Cycle the Hudson Valley Bike Tour, a seven-day, 200-mile adventure on the newly completed sections of the Empire State Trail, from Troy south to Battery Park on the tip of Manhattan, setting off July 29.

Cycle the Erie Canal

This year, the Cycle the Erie Canal ride – a supported camping trip – returns to its full complement of 650 riders. There are two options: an 8-day tour from Buffalo to Albany and a 4-day option from Buffalo to Syracuse (4-day capped at 100 riders).

The 400 mile route follows the legendary Erie Canal passing locks and aqueducts and winding through historic villages and rural farmlands. Along the way, cyclists enjoy some of the finest scenery and biking in the country as they ride tour through 400 years of history. Covering between 40 and 60 miles per day (mostly flat), cyclists travel along the Erie Canalway Trail, the east-west axis of the statewide 750-mile Empire State Trail.

Designed as a supported camping trip, accommodations are provided with showers, toilet facilities, some with pools or lakes for swimming; eight breakfasts and six dinners; two refreshment stops along the route each day. Also provided: Cycle the Erie Canal t-shirt; baggage transport; SAG wagon and mobile mechanical support; daily maps and cue sheets; painted and arrowed routes; pre-departure info packet including training trips.

But what makes the ride and the experience even more enriching are the special programs including evening musical entertainment and historical presentations; guided tours of the Canal, historic sites, museums and other attractions including the Women’s Rights National Historic Park, Erie Canal Museum and Village, Fort Stanwix National Monument and a boat tour through the Lockport locks; a kick-off reception and end-of-tour celebration.
Other amenities available (at additional fee) include fresh daily towels, gourmet morning coffee, tent and air mattress rental and set up (for those who don’t want to pitch their own tent). Shuttle transportation to the start in Buffalo (the night before the ride begins, July 15, from Albany) or back from Albany to Buffalo at the end, is also available.

Safety protocols are place (see 2023 COVID Policy). Find the answers to questions at the Cycle the Erie Canal FAQ page.

To register, visit https://www.ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal/annual-bike-tour/register

Inaugural Cycle the Hudson Valley Bike Tour

Parks & Trails NY also is hosting its inaugural Cycle The Hudson Valley bike tour, taking advantage of the new Empire State Trail that traverses the entire north-south length of the state, from Canada down to the tip of Manhattan. This trip starts midway, in Troy, on July 29 and follows the Empire State Trail 200 miles south, ending in the Big Apple a week later. This seven-day fully-supported tour is limited to the first 300 cyclists who sign up.

Daily routes average 30-50 miles with additional mileage options for riders wanting more. The route is 63% paved and 13% crushed stone dust trail, with 24% on road, and will take bicyclists through the cities, villages, countryside, and parklands of the scenic Hudson River Valley.

On the second night of Cycle the Hudson Valley, the tour rolls into the village of Hudson, which has become quite a mecca for art galleries and boutique shops. The group spends the next two nights in Kingston, the state’s first capital, where George Clinton was sworn in as the first Governor almost 246 years ago to the day that the group will be in town. On the lay-over day, cyclists can explore an optional loop, stroll through the Kingston Stockade District (on the National Register of Historic Places) or visit the Hudson River Maritime Museum.

On Day Four, cyclists ride over the immensely popular Walkway Over the Hudson, an elevated multi-use park that spans 1.28 miles and soars 212 feet above the Hudson River, into Poughkeepsie on the eastern shore. Shuttles will be available to take cyclists to visit the FDR Home and Library and the renowned Culinary Institute of America. The next day’s countryside ride ends in the charming hamlet of Carmel.

The last overnight brings the tour close to NYC. The last day’s ride along the Hudson River Greenway offers river views most of the way, ending at Battery Park with a stunning view of the Statue of Liberty. Cyclists can visit the 9/11 Memorial Pools, or book a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. There’s also a superb National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian, housed in the historic Alexander Hamilton US Custom House at One Bowling Green, across from Battery Park.

Visit Cycle The Hudson Valley for more information, or email [email protected]

Photo: Feel like an Olympian skiing at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid. The winter sport destination, which hosted two Olympics, along with the state’s other ORDA venues, have benefited from $552 million investment © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
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© 2023 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected] Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

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