LAKE PLACID - The state Olympic Regional Development Authority plans to open the world's first museum dedicated to winter sliding sports.
The International Sliding Sports Museum will be installed at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg, according to ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin. The project is being planned in coordination with the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.
Plans for the exhibit will be presented to the public at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 in the Lamy Lodge at Mount Van Hoevenberg. Lundin said questions about funding will be addressed during that presentation.
The facility will track the history of bobsled, skeleton and luge. Lundin said the exhibition will also feature full-sized sections of past and present sliding tracks, and a display that explains how those tracks were built. The combined bobsled-skeleton-luge run was completed in 2000, replacing the track used during the 1980 Olympics. The bobsled run used in the 1932 Olympics had been located in the village of Lake Placid.
"And of course, since we're in Lake Placid, there will be information on the local bobsledding clubs and their influences and how Lake Placid was awarded the Olympics," Lundin said.
The museum is expected to be a big draw for other countries with rich traditions in the sliding sports, Lundin said.
ORDA also hopes to establish museums commemorating other Olympic sports like biathlon, ski jumping and Alpine skiing at their respective venues, but Lundin said those plans are still in the "very early" stages.
"The focus is on the sliding museum," he said.
Rebecca Dayton of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum said, "The concept is that it will be a living museum.
"We're going to take different spaces around the venue, and instead of a stationary museum, it will be part of the venue and the operation," she explained.
Starting at the Lamy Lodge, at the base of the mountain, the museum will have a comprehensive sliding display, "sort of an overview of the sports," Dayton said.
From there, the museum will include a walking tour featuring an in-depth look at sliding sports.
Dayton said the Olympic Museum, located at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, has a lot of bobsled, luge and skeleton artifacts it can't display due to a lack of space.
"It makes sense to bring them out here where they belong," she said. "The museum will retain some of the pieces, but the bulk will come out to (Mount) Van Hoevenberg, and we're always looking to add to the collection."
According to Dayton, other countries have already donated items to the museum.
"We hope the process will continue and pick up speed," she said. "A lot of those athletes spent a lot of time in Lake Placid when it was one of the only tracks around the world. We'll probably start from the position of Lake Placid's role, and then expand into the international story. It will take some time to bring it all together.
"We're in the first 50 meters, so to speak," Dayton said.
Gordy Sheer, marketing director for USA Luge and an Olympic silver medalist in doubles luge, told the Enterprise that he's excited about the museum.
"It's an opportunity to tell the story of the three sliding sports and how they developed domestically and internationally," he said.
Sheer said he was enlisted to help put together plans for the museum.
"What initially got me really excited was to have someplace to display the history of the three sports, but also the opportunity to have a living museum that allows people to come and experience the sports," Sheer said.
Pat Barrett, chairman of ORDA's Board of Directors, said in a prepared statement that Lake Placid is an "ideal location" for the sliding sports museum.
"It has played a vital role in the development and history of all of the sliding sports," he said. "And because of its unique location, within a facility used by thousands of athletes from around the world, this location is ideal for educating the current and future athletes about the history and the development of their sports, while at the same time educating and inspiring a global audience."