Lake Placid's winter sports heritage began with speed skating, and its connection to the sport continues today with a series of races for 2012-2013 winter season.
There are four races being held on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval this season, including long, medium, and sprint distance events.
The first of these events is the Lake Placid Golden Skates Marathon, December 7-9. Previously known by other names, the race theme has a new concept—the winner of the male and female overall title will win a 14-carot speed skate award. Medals will also be awarded to the top three placements in gender age groups. The distances are 10k, (Friday December 7th at 8 pm), 21k (Saturday December 8th at 10 am), and 42k (Sunday December 9th at 8 am). Speed skates are required for the 21 and 42-kilometer races, but hockey and figure skates are allowed in the 10k event.
The racing season continues the next weekend, December 15 and 16, with the Jack Shea Sprints, which feature a 500 meter and 1000 meter sprint events over two days.
The sprints are followed by two all-around races, which include both sprint and medium distances. The Charles Jewtraw All Around will be held on January 5th and 6th, while the Lake Placid All Around is scheduled for February 16th and 17th. The Lake Placid Speed Skating Club sponsors all races.
Lake Placid has been part of the competitive world sports stage since the 1920's. Charles Jewtraw, James Hennessy and Ray Bryant, referred to as the "Lake Placid Skating Trio," were the first in a long line of Lake Placid athletes to compete on the National, and then International scene. The three speed skaters were members of the thriving Lake Placid Skating Association, which, in 1920, boasted a membership of 472, and trained on Mirror Lake. These skaters were the most significant factor in creating the association between Lake Placid and winter sports. In fact, Jewtraw went on to win the first gold medal at the very first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924.
The oval, an outdoor refrigerated surface, was built adjacent to the local high school could also be used for track in the summer seasons. During the 1932 Games, it was this facility that local athlete Jack Shea won his two gold medals. And in 1980, of course, the Lake Placid speed skating oval was host to Eric Heiden's record-breaking 5 Gold Medals.
Spectating at the races is encouraged, For more information on speed skating, including ice conditions and schedule updates, visit www.lakeplacidoval.com. For more information about Lake Placid's winter sports history, visit http://www.lakeplacid.com/do/history.