August 21, 2023
Albany, NY

Amid Historic Investment, Governor Hochul Announces Ashley Walden as Next President & CEO of Olympic Regional Development Authority

Amid Historic Investment, Governor Hochul Announces Ashley Walden as Next President & CEO of Olympic Regional Development Authority

Mike Pratt to Retire After 38 Years of Service

Governor Kathy Hochul today welcomed Ashley Walden as the next President and CEO of the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority. She succeeds Mike Pratt, who is retiring after over 38 years with the organization. The Olympic Authority’s directors voted to appoint Ms. Walden following a multi-month search.

“Congratulations to Ashley Walden, who brings dedication, leadership and deep sports knowledge to the Olympic Regional Development Authority,” Governor Hochul said. “I want to thank Mike Pratt for his 38 years of dedication and leadership of the Olympic Authority, which have been among the best in the Olympic Authority’s history. Building on the State’s recent generational investments in our Olympic facilities and the successful FISU 2023 World University Games, the future of winter sports in New York State is bright.”

Walden was a successful athlete with USA Luge on the Olympic and World Cup level before transitioning to recent sport leadership roles. She joins the Olympic Authority after serving as Executive Director of the Adirondack Sports Council, where she promoted sports and athletic development in the region. Walden organized the 2023 Winter World University Games, a multi-sport collegiate event that involved over 50 countries and approximately 600 universities. Prior to that, as Director of Sport and Operations for USA Bobsled and Skeleton, Walden led a recruiting and development effort for both sports to support growth and top performance for the athletes.

Olympic Authority Board Chair Joe Martens said, “Ashley’s accomplishments, first as an athlete and now as an executive, run parallel. She sets ambitious goals, overcomes challenges, and inspires others to reach their full potential. I have no doubt she will do that as the Olympic Authority’s President & CEO, following in Mike Pratt’s giant footsteps.”

Mike Pratt has been the Olympic Authority’s President and CEO since February 2017. During his tenure, New York has invested more than $600 million in the Olympic Authority facilities to help reposition the State of New York as a global winter sport destination. The major transformations and modernizations were executed with a focus on sustainability and financial responsibility. The venues include Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic Center, the Olympic Jumping Complex, and the Olympic Authority’s three ski areas, Belleayre Mountain, Gore Mountain, and Whiteface Mountain. The facilities are open year-round for events, athlete training, and recreation, while providing world-class experiences and competitions. In addition to its six venues in the Adirondacks and Catskills, the Olympic Authority manages the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and Lake Placid Conference Center. The organization also owns the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, the U.S. Luge Association facility, and the Olympic Authority’s Corporate offices, all located in Lake Placid.

Last winter, New York welcomed 68.5 million visitors, generating more than $16.1 billion in direct visitor spending. The Olympic Authority surpassed one million visits to the venues in the 2022/2023 fiscal; it included record-breaking growth in season passes and operational revenue as well as an expanded scope of the Olympic Authority’s business segments and year-round activities. Tourism Economics reported that the Olympic Authority delivered a $341.8 million economic impact for New York State during the 2022/2023 fiscal year, a 119 percent increase from the $156 million reported in 2016/2017.

The Olympic Authority Board of Directors found Walden to be a leader who will build on the Olympic Authority’s economic successes and continue to leverage the venue investments that New York State has made. Governor Hochul’s 2023/2024 Executive Budget includes $92.5 million in capital contributions to continue improving and maintaining the Olympic Authority’s venues and facilities.

Association of International Olympic Winter Sport Federations President Ivo Ferriani said, “With Ashley Walden, the Olympic Authority will have an excellent new CEO. She has all skills which are needed to lead such an important organization as the Olympic Authority is. I am particularly proud to have seen her growing from a sliding athlete to a sports and business leader.”

US Olympic and Paralympic Committee VP Olympic High Performance Kelly Skinner said, “I am thrilled to add my congratulations to Ashley and I am excited to work with her in this role as CEO of the Olympic Authority. Her strong experience in competitive sport and sport administration will be great for the region, and for all of the athletes - current and future generations - who live and train there. Thanks also to Mike Pratt for the work he did in revitalizing the venues in Lake Placid. He has left a legacy of serving athletes and the community that has set Ashley up for great success.”

State Senator Dan Stec said, “Mike Pratt represented the Olympic Authority with distinction for 38 years and I congratulate him on his well-earned retirement. Following him requires a skilled, highly dedicated person, so I'm thrilled that Ashley Walden will be his successor. She did an excellent job as Executive Director of the Adirondack Sports Council and her experiences as an Olympic athlete make her uniquely qualified to be the new President and CEO of the Olympic Authority. I congratulate her on this appointment and look forward to working with her to ensure our region's Olympic facilities remain in use and an important part of our communities.”

Assemblymember Billy Jones said, “Congratulations to Ashley Walden for her new position as CEO and President of the Olympic Authority. She was instrumental in bringing the FISU World University Games to the Adirondacks, and her years as an employee and as an American luger will be a great asset to the Olympic Authority, and I look forward to continuing to work together.”

North Elba Town Supervisor Derek Doty said, “The Town of North Elba warmly welcomes and congratulates Ashley Walden as she continues the legacy of success that the Town and the Olympic Authority share. We look forward to a long partnership that keeps the spotlight of winter sports on both New York State and the Adirondacks.”

Johnsburg Town Supervisor Mark Smith said, “We have been very fortunate to have Mike Pratt at Gore Mountain and then as President & CEO of the Olympic Authority. He always goes the extra mile and has positively contributed to the regional success of the Town of Johnsburg including the ongoing redevelopments at the North Creek Ski Bowl. This winter will be the 90th anniversary of the first snow train bringing winter sports enthusiasts to North Creek. We look forward to celebrating these milestones with the new CEO Ashley Walden as the Olympic Authority expands its year round economic impacts.”

Shandaken Town Supervisor Peter DiSclafani said, “The Town of Shandaken and the Supervisors Office has had a long and well respectful relationship with Mike Pratt and we appreciate that with gratitude and wish him the best in retirement; we are sure this will continue with Ashley Walden. and look forward to working together in the future.”

Wilmington Town Supervisor Roy Holzer said, “As Wilmington Town Supervisor, I look forward to working with Ashley Walden in her new role as CEO of the Olympic Authority and thank Mike Pratt for his extraordinary leadership and vision.”

EDC Warren County President Jim Siplon said, “We congratulate Mike Pratt on a remarkable career and for his leadership in ensuring Olympic Authority and its facilities will continue to be a foundational piece of our regional Adirondack economy for generations. Mike has been a strong voice on our EDC Board for years and a steadfast advocate for the ongoing task of building a sustainable economy aligned with our region’s natural assets. We heartily welcome Ashley, a leader of unique experience and skills as a proud product of the Olympic Authority investment in our region, to her new role. We look forward to a bright future with the Olympic Authority and Ashley as we work together to create a community and economy that works for all in our unique region.”

Lake Placid Village Mayor Art Devlin said, “As we all just witnessed, one of Ashley's strengths is being able to work with others and form a team to get the job done, which the success of the World University Games has proven. Using all the resources that the Olympic region has to offer, I look forward to seeing Ashley do the same thing at the Olympic Authority. While the village looks forward to working with Ashley, it is bittersweet as we will be losing Mike Pratt. Mike has done an excellent job of taking all of his experiences and listening to those under him to repurpose and rebuilding all of the Olympic venues to what are unarguably amongst the best in the world. On behalf of myself and the Village of Lake Placid we wish all the best to Mike in his retirement and to Ashley in her new endeavor.”

Co-chair of the Coalition for Belleayre Annella White-Dignes said, “The Coalition for Belleayre would first thank Mike Pratt for his remarkable accomplishments at ORDA and wish him well in retirement. We look forward to welcoming new President and CEO Ashley Walden to ORDA, and to Belleayre Mountain. We are excited to team with her to continue to grow Olympic Authority’s positive economic impact here in the Catskills and throughout New York State. Who better than an Olympian to lead and grow the Olympic spirit in New York State.”

About The Olympic Authority
Established in 1982, the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (Olympic Authority) was created by the State of New York to manage the facilities used during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games at Lake Placid. The Olympic Authority operates Whiteface, Belleayre, and Gore Mountains, Mt Van Hoevenberg, the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, the Olympic Jumping Complex, and the Olympic Center. As host to international, national, regional and local events, the Olympic Authority's venues are destinations and economic catalysts of the regions it serves.

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