When the Winter Olympics opens at Lake Placid next February, the home-town fans will rally around the bobsled run.
Bobsledding always has been the special province of Lake Placid. It has been the site of the only permanent bob track on the North American continent since the run was installed for the 1932 Olympics.
The mile-long ice chute has been improved for 1980 with the addition of refrigeration and a concrete base and updating of some turns.
It still is home to northern New Yorkers.
There are two events in Olympic bobsledding - two-man and four-man teams.
It is not yet known who will represent the United States on the two squads permitted in each event. Bob Purdy, executive director of the bobsledding oversight organization, believes the favorites are mostly upstate New Yorkers.
"Seems like the best sliders are all from around Keene," he chuckled. Purdy also is town manager of Keene.
Last winter, while the Placid run was still under construction, the best American sliders went to Europe for the first time to train. They had the blessing of the U.S. Olympic Committee, which paid the $75,000 bill.
That two months of top-level training, plus the fact that some U.S. manufacturers are actively working on improving sled designs for the Olympic squad, has Purdy optimistic.
"Our morale is very high," he said. "We'll be in the money."
If so, it will mark the first U.S. medals in the bobsled in over 40 years. The Americans took both events in 1932 and the two-man gold in 1936. Since then they have drawn a blank.
The East Germans, Swiss and West Germans are generally presumed to be the teams to beat.
Purdy has no predispositions about who will be on the run for the Americans.
The bobsled organizing contingent is out now on campuses around the country looking for top athletes from all fields to get involved in bobsledding and make a bid for the Olympic team. It would be no surprise if athletes who never had even seen a bob run made the team.
"There will be five or six weeks of training here before the Games," Purdy said. "We have our established drivers and pushers, but there's no reason to expect that some young kid with a couple of animals behind him can't blow everybody's socks off, right out of the blue.
"I told our veterans at the last meeting, 'Okay, you went to Europe to train and you're No. 1 on our list. Now I'm going out and find somebody that can beat you.'"
Lake Placid also has the only luge run in the North American continent, but it has none of the bob run's history. It was built last year specifically for the Olympic. Now the United States needs athletes to compete on it.
The Americans can enter 10 lugers - three for men's singles, three for women's singles and two men's doubles teams.
Carl Battaglia, who heads the luge organizing committee, said the U.S. has been participating since luge was added to the Olympics in 1964, but no American has taken a medal.
Eastern Europeans are wild about the sport, which involves sliding on one's back at breakneck speeds on a tiny sled that hurtles along a slick, serpentine ice course.
Last February, at pre-Olympic testing at Lake Placid, the East Germans stayed a week extra with teams of technicians: special squads to tailor the ice, men whose only function was to time the starts and crowds of coaches and assistants.
Only one American team - the doubles pair of Terry Morgan and Jim Mossy - stuck around. They made do with a broken-down Jeep, a broken-down Czechoslovakian sled and time on their hands.
"Man," said Morgan, watching a team groom the ice for the East German sliders, "think what we could do with a setup like that."
Battaglia is hopeful, nonetheless.
"If we can get the numbers out to train we could fare pretty well," he said.