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New York Assembly Speaker visits Lake Placid’s Olympic venues

With the legislative session in the rearview mirror, New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie continued his statewide tour in Lake Placid today, visiting the Olympic venues in the village.

The state has invested over $500 million over the past seven years to upgrade the Olympic venues including the bobsled and luge tracks, ski jumps and speed skating rink.

Olympic Center General Manager Chadd Cassidy started the Democratic speaker’s tour at Miracle Plaza, which also hosts the refurbished Olympic Center Museum.

“It’s great to have you here. We appreciate you taking the time to come today. This is Miracle Plaza here. This was built starting back in 2019. We just completed a couple of years ago thanks to the funds from the state to come in here and kind of rejuvenate all of our venues. We’ve got the scoreboard from the Miracle on Ice game in 1980.”

“Oh that’s that,” Heastie starts.

“That’s it,” Cassidy continues. “That’s the actual panel.”

After taking a few selfies in front of the Miracle on Ice scoreboard, Cassidy then led Heastie upstairs where the Speaker took a virtual ride down the bobsled track.

“Buckle up. You’re going to be going pretty fast here in a second!” Cassidy tells Heastie. “There would usually be two people in this sled. You’d have a brakeman in the back and a driver up front. There’s two person and four person.”

“And how fast would I be going?” Speaker Heastie asks.

“Around probably 65 to 75 mph somewhere in there,” Cassidy says. “There you go. There’s the brakes. It’s a good run.”

Heastie then jumped off the ski jump – virtually.

“You’re going to put your feet right up here. Hold on on both sides and look right through there. You’re going to see what it’s like to go off the jumps,” explains Cassidy.

“Now this is just the practice, right?” asks Heastie.

“That’s the actual hill, yeah,” replies Cassidy.

“But it would have snow on it, right?” Heastie wonders.

“Oh, yeah. It doesn’t have to all the time,” Cassidy notes.”

“So I’ve done two things,” remarks the Speaker.

“We could arrange for you to give it a try for real,” quips Cassidy.

A few steps away, Heastie was enthralled watching the video of the 1980 Miracle on Ice game.

“One of the greatest moments in sports,” Assemblyman Billy Jones notes. “Happened right here.”

“Where’s the hockey rink?” asks Heastie.

“Right beside us,” Jones tells him. “We’re going to go in.”

Assemblyman D. Billy Jones of the 115th district led Heastie into the Herb Brooks Arena, named after the famed coach who led the Miracle team and the site of the iconic game, and viewed the outdoor Olympic skating rink, before touring the Mount Van Hoevenberg sliding venues.

Heastie says the tour brought back memories.

“Coming here now it’s like a little surreal. You get that you know proud nostalgia builds up in you inside the hockey rink, watch the video of the Miracle on Ice.” Heastie said. “And the great Assemblyman Billy Jones just wanted me to come and see what the state’s investment over the years to refurbish this classic place. From what I understand it could allow for the Olympics to return. So I think it was well worth the investment. It looks beautiful.”

Olympic Regional Development Authority President and CEO Ashley Walden says having the Speaker and other stakeholders visit gives them a better sense of the impact of the state investment in venues.

“A large focus of the investments were in the preparations for the World University Games. So the Olympic Center, the Olympic Oval, Mount Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic ski jumps, those received quite a bit of the investments in the capital projects,” Walden said. “But in addition to that we operate three ski mountains: Belleayre, Gore and Whiteface. Those also were part of the capital project to continue to upgrade so that we can keep up with the evolving climate change and also make sure that we’re providing excellent guest experiences and economic impact to the regions we operate.”

During his visit, Speaker Heastie also announced a $250,000 grant to the Lake Placid Food Pantry and Thrift Shop.