Former Olympian named new leader of the Olympic Regional Development Authority
A former Olympian will become the new President and CEO of New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority. The ORDA board has voted to appoint Adirondack Sports Council Executive Director Ashley Walden to the role.
During its meeting Monday the Olympic Authority’s Board of Directors went into an executive session and when they exited Board President Joe Martens noted the purpose was to decide a new president and CEO for the organization. He offered a resolution.
“The purpose of the resolution is for the board to approve the appointment of Ashley Walden as the new President and CEO of the Olympic Authority. All in favor? (
The board members all respond with aye.
Martens then asks, "Opposed?" With no response he continues, " Any abstained? The motion carries unanimously.”
Martens said there was an incredible list of candidates.
“I am super-confident that the very, very talented staff that we have at ORDA is going to help Ashley make this one of the most, if not the most, successful public authorities in New York state, not just in the Olympic region, but statewide.”
Walden says she ended up in Lake Placid through sports and competed at the World Cup and Olympic levels with USA Luge before working in sports and athletic development.
“I just am very passionate about winter sports. I love the area. I love the venues and the Olympic legacy and all of the history that they stand for. So when the opportunity came around to not only be a part of the organization but to help lead it into its new chapter after all of these renovations for me it was just really a, you know, a once in a lifetime opportunity that I certainly wanted to at least put my name in the hat for.”
Waldon takes over from Mike Pratt, who will retire on September 29th after working at ORDA for 38 years and as President and CEO since February 2017. In a June WAMC News interview, he said much-needed upgrades have been accomplished at venues over the past few years.
“The Olympic facilities in particular went forty years with no upgrades and now we’ve transformed those into some modern facilities. We did all this without missing an operating season and we are on a tremendous growth curve.”
As Executive Director of the Adirondack Sports Council, Walden organized the Lake Placid 2023 Winter World University Games. She also served as Director of Sport and Operations for USA Bobsled and Skeleton. Walden believes her background in sports management and relationships she has already formed were important aspects for the search committee.
“Obviously my sports background which is important as we move forward with these renovated venues to have great connections with national, regional and international sports organizations. But also obviously the experience that I’ve had with the World University Games and assembling and leading a large team on a very tight timeline I think showed the leadership skills because it was a very complicated, complex project. And I think that gave some comfort on the leadership side. But from the visionary side I think just my background in sports and the relationships that I can bring to the table to help guide the future and the next chapter of ORDA were important pieces to the selection committee.”
Pratt outlined a number of major events ORDA has scheduled that Walden will need to coordinate.
“We’re hosting a World Cup for luge in December. We are hosting a world championship for bobsled/skeleton in February of 2025. And we’re hosting the first biathlon World Cups in Lake Placid in about 25 years in 2026. So a lot of great prestigious events. And we’ve had a lot of training is going on and getting ready for the event season.”
Ashley Walden starts her new job on September 11th.
ORDA manages the Olympic venues in Lake Placid including Whiteface Mountain and Mt. Van Hoevenberg. It also operates the Belleayre and Gore Mountains ski resorts. A report released in June found the authority generates nearly $342 million a year.