Snowfall, Canadian tourism give ORDA a banner year

The state Olympic Regional Development Authority enjoyed some of its greatest success in a decade this past winter.

ORDA operates and maintains a variety of Olympic venues across the Lake Placid region, including ski centers at Whiteface and Gore Mountains.

Heavy snowfall and a strong Canadian dollar translated into financial success at nearly every facility operated by the state agency.

ORDA is looking to build off that success by getting creative with its marketing.

A crowd of onlookers gathered inside ORDA's new high-tech board room this week to receive some good news.

"We ended the year $1.8 million to the good, prior to audit, and after debt service, $296,000 to the good - it was a great accomplishment and I want to thank the staff for all their hard work and perseverance, because under those conditions, it is not easy."

That's Ted Blazer, ORDA's president and chief executive officer. The "conditions" he speaks of include a loss of about $2.2 million in state appropriations.

But Blazer was all smiles during Wednesday's board of directors meeting.

He says the authority was able to pull through the fiscal crisis by getting creative with marketing initiatives and by utilizing its resources efficiently.

Blazer did note, however, that some outside factors played into ORDA's recent success.

"We did have some weather on our side, and we did have some great play with the Canadian dollar with people coming across the border," he said. "We will say we didn't do it all ourselves, we had some help."

By the numbers, ORDA had hoped to be about $47,000 in the black after the ski season. The agency bettered those projections by a factor of six, running nearly $250,000 ahead of expectations.

Whiteface saw about 20,000 more visitors this year than last, while Gore's numbers jumped by approximately 7,000.

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