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Speed skating season set to begin

December 13, 2017
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Quietly and unobtrusively, an orange truck with an attached water tank drove slowly around the Olympic Oval Friday, Dec. 8, starting the process of making ice for another speed and public skating season.

To create ice, the pipe along the back of the tank disperses thin streams of water onto the concrete surface of the Oval; the coolant in the pipes under the oval allows the water to freeze and make an even ice surface.

This process continues until ice of an appropriate thickness for skating is created. The process can take several days, but it is important that it is done correctly to avoid problems with the ice conditions later. This is especially important for speed skating, since the thin blades are more delicate than figure or hockey skates, requiring the ice to be in optimal condition. Considering the multiple speed skating meets hosted every season, this is even more of a priority.

Article Photos

A truck spreads water in order to make ice at the James B. Sheffield Olympic Skating Oval in Lake Placid on Friday, Dec. 8. When the oval it opens for the season, the venue will host several speed skating events and be available for public enjoyment.
(Provided photo — Christie Sausa)

The strong tradition of speed skating in Lake Placid continues this year with seven scheduled meets. The first Lake Placid Speed Skating Club marathon of the season - the Lake Placid Ice Marathon Dec. 8-10 - was canceled due to delays in ice readiness, but the rest of the schedule is expected to continue as planned.

The Adirondack Speed Skating Club will host the Adirondack All Around Championships on Dec. 16 and 17 to kick off the season. All Around events are unique because they include sprint, middle and longer distances, and each skater must compete at all distances to be eligible for medals.

"We have about 35 skaters registered," said Tom Miller, meet director and Adirondack Speed Skating Club president. "We host this event yearly to give skaters from the United States and Canada the opportunity to earn qualifying times for US Am Cup races and the Canadian Provincial Championships."

The next event is the new North American Challenge marathon, hosted by the Lake Placid Speed Skating Club. Sponsored in memory of cyclist and marathon skater Bill Bauer, the event will include distances of 5 kilometers, 21K and 42K.

"Bill loved racing in speed skating marathons at the oval," said event sponsor Carole Moore, who as a friend of Bauer conceived of the idea for the marathon in his memory. "This year's Challenge weekend includes a 5K to introduce new skaters to marathon events, although all are welcome and encouraged to participate."

The Lake Placid Speed Skating Club will also host a variety of metric meets: the Jack Shea Sprint Championships Jan. 20-21; the Irving Jaffee Single Distance Championships Jan. 27-28; and the Charles Jewtraw All-round Championships Feb. 10-11. The Sprint Championships include just the sprint distances (500 and 1,000 meters), while the Single Distance Championships give skaters the option of competing in one distance or several for a medal.

The Empire State Games long track event will return to the Oval Feb. 2-3, including skaters from throughout the region. Short track, (indoor speed skating on a hockey rink) will also be held Feb. 3-4 in the Olympic Center's 1932 rink.

The last scheduled event of the season will be the Lake Placid Ice Marathon Finale Feb. 23-25, which includes 10K, 21K and 42K distances over the three days.

Spectators are welcome for all events, and in this Olympic season visitors have the unusual opportunity to see speed skating up close and personal. It is also one of the few long track outdoor ovals left in the world, and Lake Placid speed skaters can enjoy skating surrounded by the beauty of the village.

These events are unique not only because they are held on the same historic Oval where Eric Heiden won five gold medals in the 1980 Olympics, but also for the variety of skaters they attract. From Olympic medalists to the youngest of beginners, the oval offers something for everyone.

For more information on the Adirondack Speed Skating Club, visit their Facebook page; for info on Empire State Games, visit; and for information on the Lake Placid Speed Skating Club, including meet registration, visit their site at



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