The Olympic Regional Development Authority has approved significant improvements to the speed skating oval and the snowmaking system at Whiteface Mountain in northern New York.
During its monthly meeting the ORDA Board considered revitalization upgrades to some of the Olympic facilities in and near Lake Placid. A $12.4 million project at the speed skating oval would replace the skating rink and support building. ORDA President and CEO Michael Pratt told board members the speed skating oval is an iconic image of Lake Placid that goes back to 1920. He added the current refrigeration system was installed in 1978.
“So the oval has outlived its useful life expectancy," Pratt said. "We have some failures in the refrigeration piping where we have to jackhammer up the concrete and try to weld the piping back together.”
Board member: “And the building that’s?”
Pratt: “The building is a replacement of the 1977 building primarily for event needs and maintenance needs.”
The board also approved $9.3 million in improvements to the snowmaking system at Whiteface Mountain including upgrades to four pump houses and pumping systems. Pratt called most of the mountain’s snowmaking system antiquated.
“Our goals are to make more snow, make it faster, make it more efficient, do it in less hours with less energy and more reliably," he said.
Board member Elinor Tatum was curious how the upgrades at Whiteface would affect the other ski facilities managed by ORDA: Gore and Belleayre.
“Does that put all of the mountains on basically a level playing field then with snow making or will Whiteface be way ahead of everywhere else?" Tatum asked. "Where does it leave all the mountains in terms of snowmaking?”
“Well every mountain’s different in size and vertical and have their own issues," Pratt responded. "But we’re completing the new pump house at Belleayre that’s going to allow Belleayre to operate at higher pressures and utilize the modern equipment to accomplish these same goals.”
Near the end of the meeting, board member Cliff Donaldson noted that the ORDA board has yet to hold an in-person meeting at the Belleayre Resort.
“I’m going to make a motion that the chairwoman and the president and CEO present to us a date this summer for us to hold an ORDA board meeting at the Belleayre facility," Donaldson said. "I’ve been after this for a couple years now trying to get the board down to Belleayre. We’ve been to Gore. You know I know it’s a four hour drive from here but I just think it’s right. They are taxpayers at Belleayre and in that whole entire part of the state that helps support Belleayre just as we do from up here. But I think it’s time for us to show our faces at Belleayre.”