Ski slopes, outfitters feel effects of Olympics, but snow would really help

Watching athlete Shaun White take the gold in this year’s Vancouver Olympics inspired Central Bridge

Watching athlete Shaun White take the gold in this year’s Vancouver Olympics inspired Central Bridge resident Nikolaus Neville to pick up his snowboard again after a 3-year hiatus.

“It made me realize I had the potential,” he said at Maple Ski Ridge Saturday.

Jenna Leonardo, 16, of Guilderland, said the winter games encourage people to go outside and do something.

“It makes you want to enjoy the season more.”

Kathy Cranker, 49, of Rotterdam, a season pass holder at Maple Ski Ridge, said her family is enjoying the Olympics but she would be out skiing this time of year regardless.

“It’s easy to come here and ski, be it an Olympic year or not,” she said.

But for her children, the Olympic games give them ideas to try out on their snowboards.

“I want to get more air,” said James Cranker, 8.

“I want to try to do a back flip, but I also want to do a 360,” said Andrew Cranker, 11.

Even their friend, 8-year-old Gabe Comenzo, said he likes to ski said he plans to expand his activities with snowboarding as well.

But to say there’s been an “Olympic effect” on local businesses is hard to quantify, according to Marilyn Peterson, general manager of Maple Ski Ridge.

“Yes it may have had input this week. We had a pretty decent crowd this week, and people who may have not have otherwise tried saw it on TV and tried. I do think it helped,” she said. “It’s hard to measure.”

let it snow

While there is talk about the games, which are being broadcast at ski lodges and shops throughout the Capital Region, the recent and expected snowfall within the week will really help business, according to Cathy Hay, co-owner of Alpine Sport Shop in Saratoga Springs.

Hay’s shop was filled with American flags and the winter games were displayed on the store’s televisions Saturday. Overall, the excitement and patriotism of the games make people more aware of winter sports, but she would love it if that created more business.

“A snowstorm is what we need to make things happen,” Hay said. “It’s like free advertising. It’s just easy and the people realize it’s time to get out there.”

Winter sports help people embrace the season instead of thinking the cold is awful, she said.

But there has been an Olympic effect for Lake Placid, and for two reasons, according to ORDA spokesperson Jon Lundin.

“The games are on North American soil in Vancouver,” he said. “And Lake Placid hosted the Olympic games in 1932 and 1980. Lake Placid has been celebrating its 30th anniversary of those 1980 games.”

There is also more local interest since there are 12 regional athletes competing in the Olympics this year, he said.

Friday, Lake Placid son Andrew Weibrecht earned a bronze medal in the men’s super-G ski race.

“That will give Whiteface mountain and Lake Placid a lot of attention,” he said, “Since he started his skiing career at the age of 5 at Whiteface mountain.”

Generally, the President’s Day weekend combined with the February recess of many school districts marks the busiest times for many ski and snowboarding locales.

But for Lake Placid all the factors that boost business converge even more with this weekend’s Empire State Games, keeping the drive-to-destination in the minds of consumers when it comes time to think about winter sports and vacationing, Lundin said.

Lake Placid receives 2 million visitors each year, depending on visitations from people in Canada traveling from Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec areas as well as from people in New York City, Philadelphia and various parts of New Jersey.

Being able to reach 4 million people in a six-hour radius is one reason for its success, he said.

The Empire State Games continue today, beginning at 7:30 a.m., with activities including speed skating, luge, women’s ice hockey, cross country skiing, snowshoe racing, figure skating and bobsledding.

For a full schedule of events today, visit

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