Lake Placid will no longer be the host of this season’s bobsled and skeleton world championships because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation finalized the decision Monday, the people told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans have not yet been revealed publicly. That announcement is likely by Tuesday, one of the people said.
The IBSF is going to choose an alternate site for worlds; ones most prominently mentioned include Altenberg, Germany, and St. Moritz, Switzerland. St. Moritz was the runner-up to Lake Placid when the 2021 championships were awarded three years ago.
Concerns with going forward with the event in Lake Placid this winter as planned, the people familiar with the decision said, include the possibility that athletes from some nations would be unwilling or unable to come to the U.S. during the pandemic; an uncertainty about whether Mount Van Hoevenberg — the site of Lake Placid's sliding track — would be able to have fans present; and the lack of clarity about whether a lengthy quarantine period would be required for those coming into the area for the championships.
Not hosting worlds could be the first of many blows to the tourism-dependent economy of Lake Placid, the 1932 and 1980 Olympic host. The 2020 ECAC men’s hockey semifinals and finals were not played this past spring because of the pandemic, and this season’s tournament is also scheduled to conclude in Lake Placid — if there’s a season. Also called off in 2020: the Lake Placid Horse Shows and an Ironman triathlon, both of which are big boosts to local businesses.
Lake Placid is expected to be awarded the bobsled and skeleton world championships again in either 2024 or 2025, one of the people involved said.
North America was scheduled to play host to worlds in all three sliding sports this season and now won't have any of those races. It was announced on Sept. 2 that Canada will not host the 2021 luge world championships, which were to take place in Whistler, British Columbia, from Feb. 5-7.
The reason for that move is similar to what necessitated a move for bobsled and skeleton: concerns over the pandemic, specifically the lack of assurance that foreign athletes coming to Canada for luge worlds would not be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Other changes to the World Cup schedule for the 2020-21 bobsled and skeleton season are expected to be revealed Tuesday. They will almost certainly affect the U.S. as well; Park City, Utah, is scheduled to play host to a World Cup weekend on Feb. 19-20, which would have immediately followed worlds in Lake Placid.
Another complexity to the World Cup schedules for all three sliding sports are planned race weekends and training weeks in Beijing — one in February for luge, another in March for bobsled and skeleton. Beijing is the host for the 2022 Winter Olympics and those race weekends would have been test events for the sliding competitions at those games. Typically, sliders get to spend several days at a newly built track before the Olympic year to test and collect data.
China is where the virus originated and countless events there have been canceled, postponed or in some cases amended to include no international athletes in response to ongoing concerns about foreign travel.