Lake Placid Sliding Center History

1930-1978

After Lake Placid won the bid to host the third Olympic Winter Games in 1932, South Meadow Mountain now known as Mount Van Hoevenberg was selected as the site of the first bobsled run in North America.

Construction on the Bobsled track in the lates 1920's for the Olympic Winter Games in 1932.
Construction on the Bobsled track in the late 1920’s for the Olympic Winter Games in 1932. Photo courtesy Lake Placid Olympic Museum

Late in the spring of 1930, the Polish engineer and famed track designer, Stanislaus Zentzytzki was hired to design a mile and a half earthen track following the contours of the north slope of the mountain.

Once construction began in August 1930, earth and rock were moved to build the run, which was literally dug and blasted out of rock and forest. The Mt. Van Hoevenberg bobrun was originally 1.5 miles long made of earth construction on the straight-always and the highest curves were built of stone laid between wooden ribbing.

Following the tradition of European tracks each curve was given a name.  Whiteface, Shady, Little S and Zig Zag soon became respected and feared curves throughout the world.

The 1932 Olympic Winter Games used the 1 ½ mile track including the dangerous Whiteface curve.  Eventually due to the dangers of the hairpin turn, the track was shortened in time for the 1939 Bobsled World Championships.

1978 – 1999

The one mile length was kept as the track was improved for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.  In 1973, refrigeration was added to the finish curve and in 1979 the entire one mile track was reconstructed with concrete and refrigeration

The 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid required the construction of North America’s first refrigerated luge track in 1979 and represented the only time a separate track was constructed for luge.

Luge Athlete Sliding Down the Track
Luge Athlete Sliding Down the Combined Track which opened in 2000.

1999-2019

In 1999, the luge track was removed and the original bobsled track was shortened to a half-mile length as construction began on the new combined bobsled, luge, and skeleton track.  The combined track opened in 2000 and is considered one of the most technically challenging tracks for sliders of all disciplines.

Extensive work was done to improve the track, including a covering system to protect the track from the elements, upgrades to the refrigeration system and the addition of spectator viewing locations.

2019 –

In 2019 the venue began another major overhaul. A new centralized lodge and public building containing an indoor refrigerated start facility for Bobsled and Skeleton is currently under construction. This addition will assure Lake Placid’s relevance in the Sliding Sports World for the foreseeable future.