Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in New York State, and one of the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Set apart from most of the other High Peaks, the summit offers a 360-degree view featuring the Adirondacks and perhaps on a clear day glimpses of Vermont and even Canada. The skyscrapers of Montreal, 130 km away, can be seen on a very clear day. Located in the town of Wilmington (about 21 kilometers from Lake Placid) the mountain is home to a ski area with the highest vertical drop in the eastern United States (1,050 m). Part of the post World War II growth in recreational skiing attributed to the efforts of returning veterans of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, Whiteface also hosted the alpine skiing competition of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Lake Placid, then, is a village in the Adirondack Mountains. As of the 2000 census, the village had a population of 2,638. Lake Placid is best known as the two-time site of the Winter Olympics, in 1932 and 1980. In the United States, the village is especially remembered as the site of the 1980 USA–USSR hockey game, the so-called Miracle on Ice, when a group of American college students and amateurs upset the heavily favored Soviet national ice hockey team 4–3 and two days later won the gold medal. Another highpoint during the Games was speed-skater Eric Heiden's performance, winning five gold medals.
During the 1932 games, the trails outside of the city served for the cross-country skiing events and the cross-country skiing part of the Nordic combined event. Lake Placid, St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Innsbruck, Austria are the only sites to have twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games.