LAKE PLACID - The annual Flaming Leaves Festival is usually fun enough with athletes launching themselves off the 90-meter ski jump while on the ground below live blues bands play and ribs and burgers are being grilled. But this year, visitors will have an added treat - a salute to local athletes who will be going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13 at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, state Route 73.
"It's all about the blues, brews, barbecue and of course ski jumping," Jon Lundin, spokesperson for the Olympic Regional Development Authority, told the News Wednesday. "It's also a great way to usher out summer and welcome autumn and winter. The music is great. The food is great, and it's world-class ski jumping competition."
Lake Placid News file photo
2010 Olympian Peter Frenette jumps during a previous Flaming Leaves Festival competition at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex in Lake Placid.
On Saturday, the nation's best will compete for the title of U.S. national champion in the sports of ski jumping and Nordic combined during the annual Flaming Leaves Festival.
The jumping action continues Sunday. Other activities during the festival include lawn games, a horseshoe tournament, craft vendors and T-shirt tie-dying. (You can bring your own shirt or buy one there.)
"It's been since three years since we've had a Nordic championship during Flaming Leaves," Lundin told the News. "It's a chance to see the women's ski jumping Olympic field and maybe the last chance to see local boy Bill Demong race for a U.S. national title, and then of course meet these great athletes afterward and give them a proper send off to Sochi."
At 11 a.m. Sunday, the nation's best compete for the title of U.S. national champion in the sports of ski jumping and Nordic combined
The Nordic combined national championship event will wrap up Sunday when the athletes ski 10 kilometers around the newly constructed Olympic Jumping Complex roller ski loop. The four-lap (6.2-mile-long) race is slated to begin at 3 p.m.
"For some of these young and dedicated American athletes, they're a step closer to fulfilling a lifelong dream," ORDA chairman Pat Barrett said in a press release.
The blues begins at noon, Saturday, when Funky Blu Roots, a Pompano Beach Florida based funky blues-rockin' ensemble, will perform music by such artists as The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers Band, The Steve Miller Band, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Freddie King, Derek Trucks, Robben Ford, Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana, among many others.
The Funky Blu Roots will be on noon to 1 p.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday's Blues line-up also features Back Porch Society, a band from Keene Valley, from 1 to 2 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. According to band's Facebook page, their musical influences are Mississippi Fred McDowel, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, Charlie Patton, Mississippi John Hurt and Music also continues Sunday with Collette and the Mudcats, a classic rock and blues band offering originals along with contemporary and traditional covers, from noon to 1 p.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. Fade to Blues will also perform from 1 to 2 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. A typical evening's set for this band includes songs from many Texas guitar legends like Johnny Winter, SRV, Albert Collins and Freddie King, as well as some funk, classic rock, fusion, a little bit of swing, as well as Fade to Blues originals.
A Send-off to Sochi celebration is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at the Olympic Jumping Complex, capping off a weekend of national team and championship events in several Olympic sports.
The send-off will recognize several athletes from the Lake Placid region who are expected to compete in February's Olympics in Sochi. Since the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France, the Lake Placid area has sent at least one athlete to compete. Four years ago, 12 area athletes competed in the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
USA Luge, the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation and the U.S. ski jumping and Nordic combined teams will each hold national team and national championship events beginning this weekend in Lake Placid. These events will help each organization select its fall 2013 World Cup team, which could be the first step for many athletes toward making the Olympic team.
The ski jumping lineup is expected to include World Champion Lindsey Van and 2010 Olympian Peter Frenette of Saranac Lake. Van and the rest of the world's top women ski jumpers will make their sport's Olympic debut in Sochi. Frenette, who was the United States' second youngest athlete during the 2010 winter games - he turned 18 during them - is looking to return.
Those attending the Flaming Leaves Festival will also have the opportunity to meet several athletes who hope to represent the United States during February's games. Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid, the reigning Olympic men's Super-G bronze medalist, women's bobsled athlete Jamie Greubel and other bobsled, luge, skeleton and ski jumping athletes will be on hand, beginning at 1:30 p.m., to sign autographs, pose for pictures and talk about the upcoming season.
Reigning Nordic combined Olympic champion Bill Demong of Vermontville is expected to compete in his final U.S. national championship event of his career. He'll also look ahead to his fifth Olympics in Sochi, where he will try to defend his 2010 crown.
For more information about all of the events and activities taking place this weekend at ORDA's Olympic venues, visit www.whitefacelakeplacid.com.