LAKE PLACID - The state Olympic Regional Development Authority hopes 2013 will be a year to remember.
At a recent ORDA Board of Directors meeting, President and CEO Ted Blazer said it's important for the authority to head into this ski season with enthusiasm. ORDA operates ski and snowboard venues throughout northern New York, including the Whiteface and Gore mountain ski centers, the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex and Mount Van Hoevenberg. It also runs the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in the Catskills.
Speaking earlier this month, Blazer expressed optimism about snow conditions. That optimism apparently paid off, as the region was blanketed with snow on Thursday.
"Now, it's show time," Blazer said.
Whiteface, located in Wilmington, opened for the season on Nov. 17 - one of the earliest first days in years. Trails at Gore and Belleayre opened on Nov. 22 and Dec. 1, respectively. The Olympic speedskating oval in Lake Placid also opened earlier than normal, holding its first day of skating on Dec. 1, and the ski jumping complex on the edge of town is open for tours.
Snowmaking has been in full swing at all three of ORDA's ski centers since November. Blazer said improved snowmaking equipment helps to "guarantee that we're going to have a great product for our customers.
"We've got snow, and that's what we're telling everybody," he said.
At Mt. Van Hoevenberg's cross-country ski center, ORDA recently completed major renovations to the main lodge, including the installation of a new fireplace.
"We Adirondack-ized it," Blazer said. "The flavor of that lodge has changed."
Other activities have generated good business for ORDA. The recent Festivus Faceoff, a Division I hockey game between old-school rivals St. Lawrence and Clarkson universities, attracted about 5,000 people, Blazer said. The Lake Placid area has already hosted World Cup events in bobsled and skeleton.
This weekend, the Olympic Center hosts its annual Stars on Ice figure skating show. ORDA will also host World Cup luge and freestyle skiing events this winter, and Olympic Center Manger Denny Allen said he expects more than 2,300 athletes to participate in an upcoming synchronized skating event.
The 2012-13 winter season schedule also includes the revamped Empire State Winter Games and Division III hockey championships.
"People are enthusiastic about the opening of Whiteface," board member Ed Weibrecht said. "I've spoken to people at Gore who use the facilities - they're enthusiastic there. It seems like there's a really good reception down at Belleayre.
"People seem to be really tolerant," Weibrecht said of last winter's poor conditions. "We got wiped out, and they came back so quickly. There were all kinds of positive comments. I think we have a good buzz going in a positive way."
Weibrecht said ORDA should continue to look at ways to expand and attract more visitors. One idea, he said, is to revisit the idea of opening a zipline at all three ski centers.
"I think it has potential for us to make some significant money going forward," Weibrecht said. "I think we can do it without a capital expense on our part. We ought to be able to build a business plan so that we can turn around and either finance it or get the manufacturer of the devices to underwrite it for us."
Blazer said ORDA staff has looked at the zipline idea and there are opportunities to go into a partnership with a manufacturer, which would get paid off through sharing revenues.
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.