X-Country Skiing and Skating at Lake Placid
Trip Start Jan 28, 2008
7Trip End Mar 12, 2008
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Where I stayed
My cousin Deb spent a few years living in Ray Brook, a town in the Adirondacks next to Lake Placid and claimed it was the most unfriendly place she had ever lived. Meanwhile, I recall reading some study perhaps a decade or so ago which found people in Upstate New York smiled the least of all states or regions of the country surveyed
Almost invariably, though, these people were all from Ottawa, Toronto, or some other place in Ontario, part of the recent Canadian invasion of the U.S. Three to four years ago when the Canadian dollar was still worth in the $.75 to $.85 U.S. range, I was going to Mont Tremblant and Mont Saint Anne for relative bargains on ski weeks, but now things are exactly reversed with the greenback having lost so much of its purchasing power over the last few years.
I'm a glutton for punishment, though, and I noticed on my trips through Lake Placid village that the Olympic Speed Skating Oval had public skating nightly. Wow! Speed skating is one of my favorite Olympic events, but I've never before been on skates, not even those in-line deals hip urbanites put on to travel around town on weekends; and to skate here on the same track where Eric Heiden won his five gold medals in 1980.
OK, I paid $7 for my skating ticket and a few more to rent a pair of skates and I'm off
My first few times around were a little wobbly, and I have to admit to a couple doozies of falls. If there's one thing I learned quickly learned, it's that ice just zambonied to a glasslike surface consistency is much, much harder than snow, and I ended up with a couple bruises to prove it.
Overall, though, I have to regard my skating adventure as a success, at least compared to my attempts at new balance-oriented sports like snow boarding and surfing I've tried in recent years. I'll never be a champ, but within two hour son the ice this speed skater wannabe was navigating the oval at a pretty good clip and having a blast. I was also pleased to see I wasn't the biggest (or oldest) kid out there - a weekday evening on the ice is a true family event for children of all ages in Lake Placid.
As I tottered into the Jackrabbit Hostel that night after a day filled with six hours of cross-country skiing and my two hour debut as a speed skater, I began a brief chat with two women, medical students from Toronto, who were also staying there and hanging out in the living area. We talked about our days, and they told me about their attempt to summit Mount Culden that earlier that day, one that was unsuccessful because they didn't get an earlier enough stop. "I want to try that tomorrow," I thought.