When the Olympic committee selected Lake Placid, New York, as the site for the 1980 Winter Olympics, Eastern skiers cheered. With the greatest vertical drop of any mountain east of the Rockies, Whiteface dominates the Adirondack Mountain Range. Its 11 lifts and gondola service 84 runs, including the men’s and women’s downhill courses: Cloudspin and Skyward, respectively. Both are accessed from the top of the Summit Quad, and their upper sections sit adjacent to one another.
Just under two miles long, the men’s downhill in 1980 started on Cloudspin and still challenges expert skiers with its 2,700-foot vertical drop. Sharp and fast, the first left turn—called Lake Placid—proved difficult for Olympic favorite Ken Read, a member of Canada’s Crazy Canucks, who lost his left ski in the first 15 seconds. The Austrian men ruled this slope in 1980, when Leonhard Stock and Peter Winnsberger took home the gold and silver medals.
To ski it today, follow Cloudspin to Niagra then onto Victoria. Cut left just below the top of the Face Lift and drop onto Broadway, which dumps you out on Lower Valley a few hundred meters above finish.
In 1980, the Austrians dominated on the women’s side too. Annemarie Moser conquered the women’s downhill. To run the course today, start on Upper Skyward, just below Upper Switchback. Continue on Lower Skyward and veer left below the Summit Quad onto Easy Way. The course continued onto what is now Easy Street and then Boreen. Cross the Ladies Bridge—so named for the Olympic course—onto River Run and continue down Lower Valley. The finish building for both the men’s and women’s downhill still stands just above the top of the Bear Lift.