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A Broomball Tournament in Lake Placid

People standing on Ice at the Mirror Lake Inn

On the Ice at the Mirror Lake Inn (Fujifilm X100t)

There is a different and wonderful culture in the Adirondacks. It is one where outdoor activities feature prominently.  Events such as the Wooden Ski Race, and Full Moon Madness that I have described elsewhere on this site, as well as the Saranac Winter Festival, all display a physicality and an embrace of the season that is lacking for instance, in my Pennsylvania hometown.

On a recent trip to Lake Placid, I attended one of my favorites; namely the Broomball tournament, held at The Cottage, a waterside/ pub restaurant, that is part of the spectacular Mirror Lake Inn; a luxury resort hotel in the village.

Arounfd the firefor broomball at the Cottage

Around the Fire (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 56mm f1.2)

The Cottage is the pub and informal dining venue for the resort. In summer can be very pleasant to paddle a kayak or canoe to the restaurant’s dock , and stop for a bite of lunch.

For much of the winter, however, with Mirror Lake firmly frozen, an area of the ice is plowed behind the restaurant, and an informal hockey rink is set up. Then in January, the restaurant sponsors a tournament for the somewhat arcane sport, which is apparently the winter version of softball for many people.

Crowd at Broomball, Mirror Lake Inn

Crowd at Broomball, Mirror Lake Inn (Fujifilm X100t)

Broomball, is a sort of proto hockey. The rules are similar, but the equipment, at least in the case of the local variety is much less sophisticated. As I understand it was often played in tennis shoes, though there is actually a specialized shoe to wear which gives more friction to the icy surface. In the Lake Placid varient, the predominant “stick”, was an actual broom, with the bottom cut off about halfway up, then wrapped in duct tape. There is an actual broomball that is used, a little bigger than a softball.

Broomball action at the Mirror Lake Inn

Broomball action at the Mirror Lake Inn (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 56mm f1.2)

While some of the teams, had actual matching hockey Jerseys (and apparently padding), most people played in heavy outdoor clothing sometimes with whimsical touches. Everyone plays with some sort of helmet. In this multisport town, I saw players sporting rock climber’s helmets, skiing helmets, and even hockey helmets. Though it was quite mild (high 20s F) this year, I have seen it proceed enthusiastically with temperatures in the minus teens.

 More Broomball action at the Mirror Lake Inn

More Broomball action at the Mirror Lake Inn (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 56mm f1.2)

Now to be sure, Broomball, apparently in Canada, and parts of the US, is a serious sport with a governing body, and specialized equipment, and national tournaments. Not so much in Lake Placid. Though obviously a lot of serious competitive athletics goes on in town, this one is not so intense. Like many activities in the North Country, my impression over the years from this event, it is that it is first and foremost an opportunity to socialize and be convivial on a dark cold evening in January. It is only secondarily a competition.

 Even More Broomball action at the Mirror Lake Inn

Even More Broomball action at the Mirror Lake Inn (Fujifilm XT-10, XF 56mm f1.2)

The large crowd gathers both in the restaurant, where windows allow the games to be followed, or down on the ice around a warming fire built for the occasion. As the festivities continue, the bar gets rowdy, but never unpleasantly so. Many of the older folks, who prudently no longer play, share great memories of their own time on the ice.

Photo taken in the Cottage at the Mirror Lake Inn

In the Cottage (Fujifilm X100t)

It is one of the small events, that over the year makes Lake Placid a truly unique placed to visit.