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Athletes set to soar at jumping complex

LAKE PLACID The tradition dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and will continue July 5 when ski jumpers take to the Olympic Jumping Complex for the seasons debut of Soaring Saturday. These weekly events, in a King-of-the-Hill format, puts style aside; its distance that counts. The July 5 winner will have a leg up on the 2008 Art Devlin Cup chase. This is a season-long race that includes the July 5 event, the Flaming Leaves meet in October, and the Masters Ski Jump in December. The day begins at 1 pm. There will be three official jumps; athletes will score their two best attempts of the three. Between rounds, spectators can enter a balloon toss and win some very excellent prizes. Summer ski jumping actually began on snow many years ago. Blocks of ice were removed from area lakes and stored until needed for the competitions. This ice was brought to the jumps and crushed into the hill. Crews laboriously spread this snow along the length of the site to allow the event to occur. However, beginning in the late 1980s, this all changed when artificial surfaces, introduced in Europe for summer training, made their way to Lake Placid. Now the in-run, where the jumpers gain speed, is made of porcelain tile troughs, while the landing hill features a synthetic surface layered like a thatched roof. When the in-run and landing hill are watered, the result is a winter replica of speeds and jump distances. The biggest difference between summer and winter ski jumping is the weather. Lake Placid is one of the few sites in the world where you can see this winter sport while wearing shorts and a polo shirt. When the ski jumping concludes, athletes in training at the adjacent freestyle aerial pool will entertain by displaying their tricks. Skiers launch 50 to 60 feet from a kicker, execute a series of spins and twists, and land in a 750,000 gallon pool. The surface is aerated to cushion the landing. Admission to the venue is $14 for adults and $8 for juniors and seniors. The price includes entry to the competition as well as use of the chairlift alongside the landing hill and a ride up the 26-story elevator to the top of the 120 meter ski jump tower for the best views of the Adirondacks. In addition, with the purchase of a $29 Olympic Sites Passport, your entry into the jumping site is included. The passports can be acquired at any ORDA venue, as well as the ORDA Store on Main Street in Lake Placid. Eats and drinks will be offered by Centerplate, ORDA concessionaire. Centerplate will provide summertime fare, with indoor and outdoor dining, while you enjoy the action. For more information on this and other ORDA events, as well as web cams from five locations, please log on to www.whitefacelakeplacid.com.

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