The Olympic Jumping Complex
Escape to the scenic beauty of the Olympic Jumping Complex, and immerse yourself in the Olympic experience. At the center of it all, the Olympic Jumping with towering structures, standing as high as 240 feet, awe-inspiring to behold and serve as the launching point for ski jumpers as they soar through the air. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or just looking for a unique adventure, this destination offers memories that last a lifetime.
The Host Of World Class Events
Witness ski jumpers take off our hills, flying the length of a football field, or aerialists flip and spin in the air, all while taking in stunning views of the Adirondack Mountains.
Fly Like An Athlete
For the ultimate adventure seeker, experience the rush of ski jumping yourself on the Sky Flyer zipline, following the HS 100 meter ski jump, emulating the flight of ski jumping at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.
Speed isn’t the only thing the Olympic Jumping Complex offers. Your experience starts on our Skyride, a state of the art eight-passenger pulse gondola with the same bird’s eye view of the landing hill as it transports you up to the base of the ski jumping towers for a breathtaking perspective.
Rise To The Top
Ascend to the top of the 128 meter ski jump in our glass-enclosed elevator to the Sky Deck for unparalleled panoramic views of Lake Placid and the surrounding Adirondack mountains. Don’t miss your chance to experience the excitement and beauty of the Winter Olympics firsthand!
Revitalization of the Ski Jumps
Over the last four years, ORDA has undertaken dozens of projects to bring this facility to current world-class standards. The Olympic Jumping Complex is the only ski jumping facility homologated for both winter and summer jumping training and competitions in North America.
An ADA-compliant 8-person gondola system carries coaches, athletes, visitors, and equipment alike from the jump’s base back to the bottom of the jump towers. Here, visitors can take an elevator ride to the top of the HS128 meter ski jump for amazing 360 degree views of the Adirondacks in all their glory.
Modernization of the glass elevator which takes visitors from the base of the ski jump towers to the top of the largest jump, the HS128 meter ski jump. This elevator received much needed upgrades and re-opened to the public in 2021.
The re-vamped ski jumps include summer surfaces on both jumps, frost rails that allow the jumps to maintain consistency and reliability, and regrade of the hills which resulted in transitioning the jumps from 90 km and 120 km to HS100 meter and HS 128 meter respectively, and completely redesigned outrun hills.
A four-line zipline called the Sky Flyer was added to the facility, allowing visitors to experience the thrills of ski jumping, as the course follows the incline and speed of the HS100 meter ski jump.
The Adirondack means many things to many people. Chief among them are wilderness and the natural world, for that is why these precious areas were earmarked for conservation.
Our work at New York State’s Olympic Regional Development Authority (Olympic Authority) is inherently complex. The Olympic Authority is mandated to preserve the Olympic Region’s legacy, advance recreation opportunities, host international events, and boost economic development. As a robust economic engine operating within the blue lines of both parks, achieving those goals also depends on the thoughtful, careful, and continued stewardship of the natural environment.
That is why being a steward of the New York State Forest Preserve and the lands on which our venues are located is among our greatest responsibilities. As people who live in, work in, and love Lake Placid ORDA will always be part of the sustainability solution.
We achieve greater efficiency in snowmaking due to smart investments in systems and equipment. In combination with new snow guns, compressors are a major part of the energy savings equation, too. Working together, these separate devices mix compressed air and water to create snow crystals and direct them to the ski trail. Not only eliminated the use of rental compressors for snowmaking that require diesel but also installed new systems that use less air, require less time, and use less overall energy to produce the same volume of snow. And they even work better under a range of weather conditions.
Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Lighting
To create the best possible nighttime environment for jumping and significant events while also enhancing the facility’s ability to control lighting and reduce its effects beyond the jumps, ORDA lights up the jumps with a new pinpoint precision system. By installing new, fully adjustable down-focused lights and replacing the older lights with controlled LED sports lighting, we created the ideal environment at the jumps for major nighttime events while not lighting the nighttime skies around it.
Fuel Oil to Propane
We successfully phased out fuel oil for boilers, replacing this energy source with propane. In fact, the organization is actively transitioning building operations away from fuel oil entirely. The switch makes heating more efficient and cost-effective with less liability and a far lower impact on the environment.
Lake Placid’s ski jumps are iconic. Athletes, locals, and visitors alike all marvel at the towers. No one is immune to being awe-struck by the courage of the athletes who fly off the end of those jumps. The tallest structures between Albany and Montreal, they are a powerfully distinctive feature of our local landscape.
Their history is equally striking. Just consider, for example, the relatively crude equipment used more than 100 years ago when ski jumping first began in Lake Placid. Thin wooden skis. Leather bindings. Basic leather boots. Wool clothing. And no helmet. To ponder the advances in the technology and the height of the jumps over the years is also fascinating.
The first recorded jump on skis – anywhere – was made in 1808 by Ole Rye of Norway when he launched himself about 30 feet. It wasn’t an official sport, however, until Sondre Norheim won the first-ever ski jumping competition in 1866 in the Telemark region of Norway. Sondre was the first to use willow, cane, and birch root to bind the boot to the ski, revolutionizing skiing and making ski jumping possible. After the sport began to “take off” in Norway, immigrants brought it to the US in the late 1800s.
The Lake Placid Club, which first opened to guests through the winter months in 1904, built the first ski jump at the current Intervales site in 1920 using the hillside itself as the jump surface. No one could have known at that time that simple 35-meter jump would eventually become all that the Olympic Jumping Complex is today, yet in hindsight the excitement of the first jumping competition could have been seen as a signal. Held in February 1921, that event drew 3,000 spectators, nearly 1,000 more people than the recorded Village population at the time. As the first major sport competition ever staged in Lake Placid. A seed, of sorts, from which grew everything the Olympic Village is today. It’s worth noting on that auspicious occasion, the longest jump that day, made by Anthony Maurer of Switzerland, was recorded at 124 feet.
In the coming years and decades, the jumps at the Intervales complex would be renovated, added to, and made ever larger many times over. In 1923 the singular jump on the site was enlarged to 50 meters. In 1927, a steel tower was added, raising the jump to 60 meters. And again, the following year, the tower was raised to 75 meters. A smaller, 40-meter jump had also been built to facilitate training in advance of the 1932 Olympics.
Ski jumping was made an Olympic sport at the first Winter Games in 1924 at Chamonix, France. At the 1932 Games in Lake Placid on that steel 75-meter tower, 10 of 17 nations competed in ski jumping. Norway swept the podium in the only jumping event at the time, the individual men’s competition.
After the 1932 Olympics, the 1950 World Championships in ski jumping were held in Lake Placid also on the same 75-meter tower. It wasn’t until 1977 that the old tower was dismantled, and new 70- and 90-meter jumps were constructed in advance of the 1980 Winter Olympics. By then, the sport consisted of two events – the Normal Hill and the Large Hill. That year 18 nations participated in ski jumping with Austria’s Toni Innauer taking Gold on the Normal Hill and Finland’s Jouko Törmänen winning on the Large Hill.
After the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York State created the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) to maintain facilities and drive economic development. By all measures, that work is a brilliant and continuing success. ORDA remains devoted this this original purpose by facilitating training opportunities for athletes, providing four-seasons recreation for a diverse population, and hosting a broad spectrum of events while continually striving to improve and further develop all facets of operations. The benefits of this work are far reaching, and today, ORDA is a global leader in sport and recreation with an ever-vigilant focus on results and sustainability.
Through the years, international standards for ski jumps naturally change due to advances in the sport and the equipment jumpers use as well as other factors, not the least of which is athlete safety. To keep the jumps on the two towers in compliance with standards, the landing hills were re-graded in 1994, increasing their official height to 90- and 120-meters.
The 40-meter training hill also saw changes through the years. In the late 1960s, volunteers regraded the hill and reconfigured the takeoff, making it a 48-meter jump. To keep pace with athlete development needs, Town crews built a new tower for that outrun in 1998. Today, that jump, which lies to the right of the large hill’s outrun, is still used for training in winter.
A Freestyle Aerial Training Center was also added for year-round training and competition. The acrobatic discipline known as Aerials has athletes skiing off a much shorter but steeply inclined jump that propels them as much as 20 meters into the air above the landing area. In the air, they perform multiple flips and twists before landing on a steeply inclined hill (winter) or a large swimming pool (summer). In the pool, a burst of air is sent up from the bottom just before the athlete lands in the water, breaking up the surface tension to reduce the impact of the landing for the skier.
In more recent years, discussions began on upgrading the jumps, particularly the 90- and 120-meter hills. Both the International Ski Federation and U.S. Ski Jumping recommended improvements to meet new standards. Aligning the venues to meet advancing standards would ensure the venue could remain useful and continue attracting national and international competitions. It was also necessary to provide a safe and effective environment for training throughout the year. And a big part of that vision included adding elements beneficial to tourists and the general public, too. Funding was approved in 2019, and a series of rejuvenation projects began to upgrade the jumps.
Among this series of projects were many improvements made to the jumps and other infrastructure on the site. One key to it all was the new ceramic frost rails that were added to the “inruns” (the side-by-side ski tracks in which athletes descend the tower before launching into the air). The old inruns were always an issue with temperatures fluctuating. Today, the upgrades provide a consistent, fair, safe surface for athletes to achieve the speed they need for jumping. The new frost rails also make maintenance much easier, helping crews keep the jumps always ready for training throughout the year. Additionally, they permit safe jumping without snow, a big change that not only allows athletes to train at the facility year-round but also for ORDA to host national and international competitions in all seasons.
Another key was re-contouring the landing and adding underground infrastructure to meet new standards for the profile of the hill and the safety of the landing surface. The “outruns” (the flat to slightly uphill portion allowing the jumper to stop) were also regraded. Both the hills and the out-runs were covered in a new high-tech, long-lasting artificial surface that resembles grass. With a little water sprayed over the top, athletes can jump and land safely without snow, anytime of year. And in winter the new profile means the hills require less snow to achieve the optimal profile for athlete performance and safety.
The height of the towers is now officially HS 100-meter and HS 128-meter, a designation signifying the hill size from the takeoff to the farthest landing point, all calculated on the technical geometric specifications of the hill. The hill length is used for the calculation of the jumpers’ distance, a number that is combined with style points awarded by judges for the overall competition points. Measuring jumper’s distances was formerly done by people positioned along the hills who would signal where a skier landed. Now, it’s performed automatically by an advanced video triangulation system that’s more accurate, reliable, and fair in competition.
Additional venue upgrades also include a new, faster, and more efficient snowmaking system as well as the replacement of the slower chairlift system with a comfortable eight-person, ADA-compliant gondola. The new Skyride gondola transport system carries athletes, coaches, officials, equipment, spectators, and tourist visitors from just outside the base lodge to the base of the towers and new decks for up-close viewing of competitive events and training.
Additionally, the gondola carries visitors to the launch deck of a new zipline course. This added attraction parallels the path of a jumper from the HS 100-meter tower, allowing visitors to feel for themselves the flight of a ski jumper launching into the air. The zipline attraction increases the use of the venue and improves the experience for visitors.
Finally, there’s an all new Intervales Base Lodge that provides everyone – coaches, teams of athletes, spectators, and tourists throughout the year – outstanding opportunities to see the training and competitions and experience everything the Olympic Jumping Complex has to offer.
This series of upgrades is once again putting Lake Placid on the international ski jumping map and positions the Olympic Jumping Complex a sought-after destination for athletes and tourists alike. The jump towers and the glass elevator to the observation deck are still among the more captivating and entertaining activities for visitors to the region.
Completed in 2021, the series of projects that rejuvenated this historic venue are all vital to keeping it, and our region’s Olympic legacy, alive and thriving. The first event at the new jumps was the Olympic Trials, a nationally televised event beaming images of Lake Placid into homes around the country on Christmas Day. This summer saw nearly constant training by athletes and two major fall competitions, that also provided visitors a festival atmosphere and spectating opportunity.
After an early winter season filled with training, the jumps were host to the largest event since the 1980 Winter Olympics – the 2023 FISU World University Games. With Individual, Team, and Mixed Relay Ski Jump competitions, plus Nordic Combined events over the 11-day event, the new jumps were gave athletes from around the world a platform to shine while cameras beamed images of Lake Placid to a global audience. And now, right on the tail of the tremendously successful FISU Games, the crew at the Olympic Jumping Complex is preparing for a sold-out crowd for the first FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Lake Placid in more than three decades.
This venue is vital to Lake Placid’s position as the winter sports capital of the world. The recent improvements are vital to our maintaining that prestigious reputation for decades to come. Today, the flame burns bright, and our position in the world is rising. After more than a century of jumping in Lake Placid, the Olympic Jumping Complex remains a valuable asset that will yield extraordinary results for decades to come.