For the second Games in succession the Olympic movement returned to a track that had previously held a Winter Games bobsleigh competition. In 1976 only 12 years had passed since Innsbruck had seen Olympic action but the return of the Winter Games to Lake Placid had taken nearly half a century and the events would take place on a bob run that was completely refurbished during 1978-79. During that period the re-configured and, compared to 1932, slightly shortened track, was fitted with a refrigeration system for the first time. The Van Hoevenberg Bob Run was 1,557 meters long with a vertical drop of 148 meters and an average gradient of 9.5 percent.
The 1980 Winter Games turned into a battle between the old and the new. The old guard of the bobsled world were led by Switzerland, one of the traditional giants of the sport, and the new guard by the upstarts from the German Democratic Republic whose relative lack of experience was countered by meticulous planning and state funding.