Adirondack Winter Challenge Showcases Winter Tourism Opportunities

Mar 4, 2016

Although it has been a mostly mild season, the third Adirondack Winter Challenge was held Sunday in Lake Placid.  The event was created by Governor Andrew Cuomo to promote North Country winter tourism opportunities. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley checked out some of the activities.

Despite temperatures in the high 40’s, the winter challenge brought local, regional and state officials to Lake Placid to indulge and discover unique or untried activities.  While the governor was unable to make it, about 300 people registered to participate in events that ranged from hockey to snow tubing to phat biking.  High Peaks Cyclery owner Brian Delaney was showing competitors the new bikes.  “Phat biking came about because of cyclists that were so excited about cycling year-round said we need a bike that will float over the snow and have control.”

The bike sports a much wider tire to float over the snow.   The new winter sport in the Adirondacks intrigues Assemblyman Dan Stec even though he says he rarely rides a bike.   “This is the first year I’ve even seen one but they look like they can go just about anywhere. I know how difficult it is to walk through snow.  But the way that that bike is built I mean it looks like it can go anywhere.  So that intrigues me and you’d be able to ride a bike where you normally wouldn’t be able to ride.”

Newcomb Town Supervisor Wester Miga was also learning how to handle the bike.   “I’ve never ridden one before and normally things that I haven’t done intrigue me. So I came today in order to get the experience.”

The group of phat bikers rode off toward Mirror Lake after getting final instructions.  

As they left another group boarded a bus to be transported to a more traditional venue, at least for Lake Placid.  

Tourists can ride the half-mile Olympic bobsled track at Mt. Van Hoevenberg.  Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman couldn’t resist the opportunity to slide a second time in the Adirondack Challenge.   “It’s absolutely phenomenal.  It’s the best ride in Lake Placid. It’s fast. It’s slick and it’s thrilling. You know being in the Town of Plattsburgh I have a deep appreciation for these facilities here but getting folks from Albany and other areas of the state here to participate in this wonderful playground is really important because this is a four season location.  The winter just happens in my opinion to be the best of it though. (Who’s next?)  Looks like we’re getting on the sled.”
            
Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Ferebee says the warmer temperatures for the winter challenge is an opportunity to showcase the adaptability of the Adirondacks.   “This winter has shown the broad range of things that we can do here other than you know skiing or ice skating and the toboggan chute, things like that. They’re hiking today vs. cross country ski.  We are very versatile up here.  We have learned in the Adirondacks that we have to be creative.”  

At the end of the Adirondack Challenge, Gov. Cuomo announced a half-million dollars in funding to create a cross-border advertising campaign to bring Canadians to winter destinations.  He also provided $425,000 to the Snowmobile Trail Fund.