ORDA prepares facilities for winter season

LAKE PLACID – The state Olympic Regional Development Authority is finishing up preparations for the winter.

More than 85 percent of the authority’s revenue is made in about two-and-a-half to three months of the year, ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer told the ORDA board last week.

He told the board about various efforts to keep the facilities more active in the summer, which he said are growing in popularity.

Marketing efforts

Blazer gave the board an overview of ORDA’s plan for marketing the area for the winter.

This will be the authority’s full first year in charge of Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, and its first full year of offering a ski pass that will get skiers into ORDA’s three mountains: Belleayre, Whiteface Mountain Ski Center and Gore Mountain Ski Resort.

“It’s been very, very, very well accepted,” Blazer said.

He said he heard multiple stories about people from the Catskills who would normally visit Vermont for a ski weekend coming to the Adirondacks instead because of the deal.

He showed the board a video advertisement for the three mountains, highlighting the benefits of each. He said the goal is to highlight that the entire area between Montreal and New York City can be served by ORDA’s three mountains.

His staff is also working to drive sales in ways besides advertising, like working with local hotels and other businesses for package deals; partnering with corporations like Coca-Cola, which produces cans that can give skiers a discount at ORDA ski areas; and guerrilla marketing efforts in cities around the area, such as projecting Whiteface logos on the sides of city buildings, using trucks as moving billboards and having people dressed as skiers talking to people on the streets.

He noted there are many events, both big and small, planned for the ski areas throughout the winter.

Facility improvements

Managers of each of ORDA’s facilities also gave an update on improvements that have been made over the summer.

Gore Manager Mike Pratt said his workers did a lot of behind-the-scenes capital maintenance projects, like reworking electric service to several buildings. The beginners terrain and children’s areas have been remodeled, workers built a new deck off the lodge’s lounge, and they added a new coffee, wine and beer bar as well.

He said the International Ski Federation certified one of Gore’s trails, and the racing industry has asked his facility to host four races this year.

“It’s really exciting, and it opens up a lot of mid-week business and extended weekend business for the community also,” Pratt said.

Tony Carlino, who manages the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg and Olympic Jumping Complex, said the sliding tracks added new tarps and shades that should save energy, plus other highly technical upgrades like a new pump and valves for the ammonia used on the tracks. There were also upgrades to the timing systems there, he said. He got a new compressor for snowmaking at the ski jumps, and a new ticket booth will be done there, hopefully in time for next weekend’s Flaming Leaves ski jumping event.

“We look forward to a really, really busy season,” Carlino said.

Olympic Center Manager Dennis Allen said his facility saw improvements like new dressing stalls in four of the locker rooms and new rubber floors. Work was done to the roofs in places where one rink meets another to cut down on leakage, he said.

At Belleayre, Operations Manager Tim Maxwell said they are leasing 10 new fan guns and replacing a service lift with a magic-carpet-style lift, as well as doing some other snowmaking improvements. The facility will also have a new fleet of rental equipment and what he hopes will be an easier rental process, he said.

Whiteface Mountain Manager Aaron Kellet said his mountain will have a new, higher-capacity fan gun to push snow onto the slopes. His staff also rebuilt a deck at the top of Little Whiteface and cut a new trail from Hoyt’s High to the Summit Quad lift. He said the facility has also been working with food service company Centerplate to increase capacity in the bar, cafeteria and Kids Kampus.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or jcollier@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.