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International Luge Federation Pulls World Cup Competition From North America Including Lake Placid

USA Luge logo
USA Luge
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USA Luge logo

For the second year in a row the international body that oversees luge competition has pulled World Cup competition from North America. This year’s competition was pulled because Russia and Georgia failed to secure visas by an early August deadline. The head of Lake Placid-based USA Luge says the move puts a burden on athletes as they prepare for other competition and the Winter Olympics.

The International Luge Federation had imposed an early August deadline for athletes from Russia and Georgia to secure visa documents to assure charter flights could be booked for travel to December competitions in the U.S. and Canada. But the U.S. Embassy in Moscow is closed and Russian athletes could not get appointments to obtain visas at other sites.

USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy says Russia and Georgia are the only two countries that experienced problems. But he adds it is an Olympic year and because each race is part of a qualification process the international federation wants all nations to participate in World Cup events.

“They are now awarding Russia two World Cups. The one that you know we couldn’t go to Canada and then the Lake Placid. This puts our athletes at a real disadvantage.”

While the competition was pulled from Lake Placid due to visa issues, Canada’s World Cup luge races were pulled due to vaccine issues. Leahy feels the North American Tour was placed at a serious disadvantage by the international federation due to the August visa deadline.

“Both countries believed that with time could we work to get the Russians into the U.S.? Yes. Could the Canadians eventually accept the Sputnik vaccination coming into Canada? The answer is yes," says Leahy. "But based on this August 10th deadline that was imposed on us, neither us nor the Canadian Luge Association could give the International Federation the documentation that they needed.”

Leahy says it’s not just luge athletes who will feel the impact from the cancellation of the Luge World Cup in Lake Placid for a second year. He notes there are usually about 300 coaches and officials who work at a World Cup event plus several thousand spectators who patronize Lake Placid’s restaurants, hotels and businesses.

“The state of New York has spent a considerable amount of money updating all of these facilities. So our partner ORDA is also going to struggle in this," Leahy says. "The other is typically for our races in the past athletes have flown into Montreal and then have driven across the border to Lake Placid. Here was an opportunity for us to showcase Plattsburgh International Airport which just opened up additional runways in June.”

Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism president and CEO Jim McKenna says the ORDA facilities have never been in better shape and there were hopes the World Cup competition would show off the new facilities at Mt. Van Hoevenberg.

“Both the sliding facilities and the Nordic and biathlon facilities they’ve been identified as really some of the best, if not the best in the world right now," McKenna notes. "Another impact people don’t normally see that affects our region is the international media impact of not having the event. So we’re going to lose that too.”

Extended conversation with USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy

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