© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jamaican Bobsled team staying in Saranac Lake during training

A bobsled finishes it run at Mt. Van Hoevenburg (file)
Pat Bradley
A bobsled finishes it run at Mt. Van Hoevenburg (file)

In January, the North Country Sports Council approached the Franklin County Legislature with a proposal to partner with the council to house the Jamaican Bobsled team in Saranac Lake while training. While intrigued, legislators declined. But as WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports, the team will stay in Saranac Lake after a board member of the council decided to fund the team’s stay.

From the movie "Cool Runnings": "I am feeling very Olympic today. Cool Runnings! Yes. Where do these guys come from? Jamaica!"

North Country Sports Council Executive Director Matt Dougherty:

“The Jamaican Bobsled team is famous because of their pride, their culture and everyone loves an underdog and they work hard and they do what people don’t think is possible,” said Dougherty. “They put sleds into the Olympics and for a little island nation that is incredibly impressive. You know we have opportunities for people to experience some of that in person. They can come to Saranac Lake and meet with the team. It’s incredible.”

Dougherty says their board chair decided to cover team’s stay in Saranac Lake after a proposed partnership with the Franklin County Legislature using $135,000 from occupancy tax revenues fell through.

“We have some start-up money and our chair Neil Fortier is backing this with his own funds as well as some of our start-up money,” Dougherty explained. “And hopefully it’s symbolic of really what we’re here as the North Country Sports Council to do which is bring things to the North Country and put the money into the businesses and into the community.”

Legislator Lindy Ellis, who represents Saranac Lake, could see the county supporting a partnership in the future.

“This is a very good thing for us, for our community and I can see that there’s an opportunity to revisit this for the winter of 2024.”

Saranac Lake Mayor Jimmy Williams hopes the bobsled team residency in the village generates interest in Olympic sports among young people.

“We’ve had a lot of Olympic medalists from Saranac Lake and it’s time to spark some interest in the next generation,” Williams said. “You know going forward I’m not sure what kind of large scale interaction there will be with the public, but they’re already planning on getting some students over to the venues.”

The bobsled team got international attention when it debuted at the 1998 games, inspiring the film “Cool Runnings.”

Hotel Saranac Director of Sales Myra Rondeau says the current Jamaican bobsledders are already in Saranac Lake and participated in the village’s Winter Carnival Parade last weekend.

“I think they were pleasantly overwhelmed with how much the community embraced them and the cheers alone they got just walking down the street was incredible,” Rondeau recalls. “And after the parade they kind of came up and did a meet-and-greet with people and people were quoting “Cool Runnings” and giving them lucky eggs from the movie, which is so cool. And they were taking photos with kids in the community and they said it was the best experience they could have asked for.”

The North Country Sports Council is hoping to make Saranac Lake the Jamaican Bobsled team’s permanent home base.

Related Content