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Winter is on it's way

Reportedly, around the same time, a skier attempted a similar skijoring feat across frozen Mirror Lake in the village of Lake Placid when he was towed behind a biplane. The 1920's ushered in the era of barrel jumping, speed skating, dog sled races, ski jumping and curling competitions.

Snowshoe races, which are quite popular today, weren't even considered for competition at the time as snowshoes were considered simply a mode of transportation. Before the advent of plows, snowshoeing was considered a necessity, rather than sport.

The Saranac Lake Ski Club, which formed in 1919 with a roster of 105 members was followed in 1920 by the Sno Birds Ski Club of Lake Placid. The Sno Birds, based at the Lake Placid Club, boasted of an inventory of over 600 pair of skis by 1923.

At the time, there was no lift assisted, downhill skiing as it is known today. Skiers would climb the hills that they later skied down. Many ski trails were developed on Adirondack peaks, including the Van VanHovenberg Trail up Mt. Marcy. By the mid-1930's, the region was laced with ski trails.

In 1922, the United States Eastern Ski Association was founded in the old Berkley Hotel in Saranac Lake with the local clubs as charter members. By that time, both villages were recognized as ski centers and they each hosted numerous competitions.

The popularity of winter sports eventually lead to the establishment of a series of competitions which included hockey matches, cross country ski races and more. By 1920, 'College Week' in Lake Placid offered student athletes an early version of spring break. It soon became an annual event which brought college students, primarily Ivy Leaguers, to town to participate in an arctic edition of Fort Lauderdale type shenanigans.

The success of these early winter sporting ventures eventually led to Lake Placid's bid to host the 1932 Winter Olympic Games and the beginning of the village's lasting, Olympic heritage.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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