Beach Olympics are for sissies. How about the real thing? The Winter Olympic Challenge Program in Lake Placid, NY opens up the venues of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, offering even novice winter athletes a chance to try bobsledding, luge, biathlon, alpine skiing, ice hockey, figure skating, curling, and speed skating, among the activities. For meeting executives who prefer their adventures packaged, this is a great way to add some thrills to the agenda, then wind down at Mirror Lake Inn, a posh, old Adirondack lodge.
Does it qualify as "adventure travel"? Participating in any activity in the middle of an Adirondack Mountain winter is an adventure, says Mike Rolnick, a spokesman for the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid, but the thrill of skating on the same outdoor speed-skating oval where Eric Heiden won five gold medals, for example, adds another dimension to the experience.
"The thing about Lake Placid is that you actually participate in the activity, as opposed to being just a spectator. And you get to try your hand at something-like bobsled and luge-that very few people in the world get to do," says Susan Rosenberg, a spokeswoman for United Parcel Service, which is among an impressive Olympic Challenge client list that this winter includes Xerox, Kodak, CBS, Sports Illustrated, and Bausch & Lomb, among others.
"The Lake Placid experience has been extremely positive for UPS," says Rosenberg, "so much so that we've expanded it this year. In a fun, but very different environment, it's a chance to enhance relationships and build new ones."
"A lot of our corporate clients have never seen snow," says Rolnick, "so to take in the Olympic flavor of Lake Placid, that's a major draw for them. It's like a Winter Olympic fantasy camp, especially since they participate under the guidance of former, current, and future Olympians."
Mike Eruzione, captain of the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. hockey team, the "Miracle on Ice" squad, assists the corporate clients, as do gold medalists Diann Roffe-Steinrotter, an alpine skier, and Cathy Turner, short-track speed skater. There's even an opening ceremony with fireworks.