Saranac Lake will bid for 2014 snowshoe championships

SARANAC LAKE – The village wants to bring the National Snowshoe Championships to Mount Pisgah.

Trustees agreed Monday to submit a bid to the U.S. Snowshoe Association to host the 2014 National Snowshoe Championships at the village-run recreation center, which hosted Empire State Games snowshoeing races in 2011.

“It’s exciting,” said village Mayor Clyde Rabideau. “It’s on a scale that Saranac Lake can accommodate, and for our community to host a national championship in just about anything is a good thing. We’re going to enter a competitive bid and see what happens.”

Village Clerk Kareen Tyler and Recreation Director Charlie Martin put the bid package together. Tyler said she was approached about putting in a bid by Jim Tucker, athletic director at Paul Smith’s College and coach of the college’s snowshoeing club, the Striders.

The event could draw 200 to 250 competitors from across the country to the village, some staying in the area for two to three days, Tyler said. The races would only be open to those who qualify for the championships based on their results in snowshoe races earlier in the season.

“The event is typically held the first week of March and would establish a foundation for substantial progressive economic impact on Saranac Lake,” reads the resolution the board approved Monday.

The racing would take place on 5 kilometers of trails at Mount Pisgah, some of which were built this year by volunteers.

Tucker told the Enterprise that the snowshoe championships rotate to different regions of the country – the East, Midwest, the Rockies and the Far West – every year. The last time they were in the East was in 2010, in Highland Forest outside of Syracuse.

Tucker said he considered pitching the idea of hosting the races to several possible sites in the Tri-Lakes – including Dewey Mountain, Mount Van Hoevenburg and Whiteface Mountain – but settled on Mount Pisgah because it had the right combination of terrain and facilities, including a lodge and a big parking lot, to accommodate all the competitors.

“By watching the race in different locations, I knew we needed a place that had some steep terrain like Pisgah,” Tucker said. “You also need single track and ungroomed terrain. I’m banking on that having held (the ESG snowshoe races) at Pisgah, that will prove there’s some experience there in holding that kind of event.

“The timing, for me, was right,” Tucker added. “The governor had just been here in his red and black plaid at the Enterprise offices, and was talking about the potential for other events in Saranac Lake. Just seeing the cohesiveness with the chamber and the village and the various entities, I think the timing is good.

“I had considered Lake Placid in my mind, but I think an event of this nature – it’s not World Cup bobsled or luge. It’s a different market altogether. I just think U.S. snowshoeing would just get buried in Lake Placid between Can-Am hockey and whatever else. In Saranac Lake, I think it’s the right size for the right community.”

The USSSA board, made up of 30 people from across the country including Tucker, will be responsible for picking the site of next year’s championships. The announcement of the winning bid will be made at this year’s National Snowshoe Championships, which are being held in Bend, Ore., from March 15-17.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or