Of ice and men

Over the last month, many of the worlds fastest athletes have traveled to the Adirondacks to race on smooth hard ice. These sports have long been a part of the North Country's heritage. Lake Placid upheld this tradition by hosting the World Championships for bobsled, luge and skeleton at Mt. VanHovenberg's track. Never before has one site hosted the World Championships in all three events.

This proud sledding heritage received a golden shine as Steven Holcomb recently drove his "Night Train" four man bobsled to win the World Championships in Lake Placid. At speeds topping 80 mph, his efforts ended a 50-year drought for the U.S. Men's team.

The team's triumph was the first for the United States at the World Championships since Arthur Tyler took the gold medal at St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1959.

I've spent much of the past month enjoying the local ice. While visiting the bob run last week, I was intrigued to learn the Olympic Authority is now offering skeleton rides for the public, rather than the usual bobsled rides.

The opportunity to pilot a small skeleton sled down the iced chute offers the thrill of a lifetime. With a skeleton sled comfortably under your chest and abdomen and your chin just inches from the iced run, a quick push sends the rider hurdling headfirst down the lower section of the mile-long track.

While approaching speeds of 35 mph may not set any track records, a rider's close intimacy to the ice certainly amplifies the feeling of speed.

More recently, I have been busy sailing the icy surface of the Saranac Lakes in a pair of small iceboats.

The lakes were resurfaced by nature's Zamboni as a thaw and accompanying rains erased the snow cover. Even with mild winds, the iceboats raced across the smooth cover.

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