It all started in August. The media inquiries about Lake Placid’s Olympic heritage have increased by the day as we get closer to the games in Sochi. Many want photos, or to visit to write or film a news story, and most want to know what impact hosting the games has had on Lake Placid in general.
As communications director for the region’s destination marketing organization, my job is to support our efforts to drive overnight visitation, and implement promotional messaging that is based on research. And through that research, we know that the biggest driver of overnight visitation to Lake Placid and the Adirondacks is outdoor recreation – hiking, paddling, cycling and the like – hands down. However, for a couple of months every four years, I prepare to spend a lot of time responding to the expected influx of Olympic-themed media requests. » Continue Reading.
Lake Placid officials have announced a series of programs and events that celebrate the international spirit of the Olympic Winter Games and Lake Placid’s robust winter sports heritage leading up to and during the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
The Village of Lake Placid, the Lake Placid Business Association (LPBA), the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) have collaborated to lead the community in celebrating its Olympic pride and the Sochi Games. » Continue Reading.
Among the folks who played an important role in regional history and personified the traditional Christmas spirit was Willis Wells of Lake Placid. Long before Willis gained attention, his father, Duran, a Peru, New York, native, had become a North Country fixture, operating a peddler’s cart in the post-Civil War years. From the shores of Lake Champlain to the Paul Smith’s area, he supplied homes and farms with the daily needs of life, an important function in those early days when stores visited many of their customers.
Duran was somewhat of a showman, adding to his popularity. His arrival at large hotels like Smith’s, or the Stevens House at Lake Placid, was greeted by requests for his famous team of gray horses to perform. Wells had taught them several tricks (playing ball, standing on their hind legs, etc.). Guests loved it, and it was a great advertising gimmick to boot.
Success as a peddler led to Duran settling down and operating a store in Lake Placid in the late 1870s. The business flourished, but the onset of rheumatism eventually left him crippled and unable to work, forcing him to retire by the age of 50. » Continue Reading.
The Lake Placid Olympic Museum, located in the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, has announced the opening of their new, permanent exhibit, “Sonja Henie: Perfection on Ice.” Sonja Henie won more Olympic and World titles than any other ladies figure skater, to include three Olympic crowns and six European championship titles.
Her innovative skating techniques and glamorous demeanor transformed the sport permanently and confirmed its acceptance as a legitimate sport in the Olympic Winter Games. » Continue Reading.
Featuring future Olympic hopefuls, past Olympians, and a tribute to skater Sonia Henie on the same ice where she earned an Olympic Gold in 1932, will be featured in a “Lake Placid Holiday Dreams on Ice” show at the 1932 Rink at the Olympic Center at 5:00 p..m. on Sunday, December 8, 2013.
The skating show caps off a weekend full of activities and events that comprise the Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll, and will both commemorate historic Olympic moments and celebrate the holiday season. Special guests include two-time Olympic Champions Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov, Olympians Karen Courtland Kelly and Patrick Kelly, as well as many figure skaters from throughout the region. » Continue Reading.
The Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA) will present the new documentary Ready to Fly which chronicles the US Women’s Ski Jumping Team’s fight to be recognized as an Olympic sport on Sunday, October 13 at 8:00 PM. Immediately following the film, members of the US Women’s Ski Jumping Team will take questions from the audience.
Ready to Fly follows 2009 World Champion Lindsey Van (not to be confused with apline skier Lindsey Vonn). Even though Van out-jumped the world’s best men at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic venue, the International Olympic Committee forbade women from competing in ski jumping, the only Winter Olympic discipline to do so. » Continue Reading.
The Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society has announced the second in its 2013 “Odds and Ends” Winter Lecture Series on Wednesday, February 27 at Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Lake Placid. The lecture will begin at 7:00 pm with attendees encouraged to come for dinner at 6:00pm. The second program in the four-part series is titled “Small Town, Big Dreams – The Story Behind Lake Placid’s PBS Documentary”.
From a surprise discovery in a museum vault to a locker-room interview about the Miracle on Ice, learn the story behind the film that brought Lake Placid’s tale to a nationwide PBS audience. Join filmmaker Scott Carroll and former Lake Placid News reporter Marc Nathanson for an inside look at how they turned the history of Lake Placid into the award-winning documentary film “Small Town, Big Dreams: Lake Placid’s Olympic Story.” Listen to never-before-heard audio clips from the cutting room floor featuring the voices of some of Lake Placid’s most important historical figures. » Continue Reading.
Figure skating has always had an important home in Lake Placid. Early on, the Sno Birds popularized this summer retreat, and Melville and Godfrey Dewey help win the campaign for the 1932 Winter Olympics. The Skating Club of Lake Placid was formed, and after 1932, famous skaters trained there with legendary coach Gus Lussi.
When Lake Placid again hosted the Olympics in 1980, skating dominated, with state-of-the-art facilities that have continued to be used by stars like Dorothy Hamill and Sarah Hughes, and helped give rise to Scott Hamilton’s Stars on Ice. For more than one hundred years, the Lake Placid community has worked together to support figure skating and skaters in this quiet Adirondack village. Local winter sports writer Christie Sausa tells this history in Lake Placid Figure Skating: A History (History Press, 2012). » Continue Reading.
The Lake Placid Hall of Fame Committee is seeking nominations of full or part-time residents of the Olympic region (Essex, Clinton and Franklin Counties) for 2012. The Lake Placid Hall of Fame began in 1983 and has inducted over 100 individuals including members of the 1948 U.S. Olympic four-man bobsled team and the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Permanent plaques commemorating each member are on display in the Olympic Center’s Hall of Fame.
To be considered for membership, individuals should be past or current residents of the Olympic region or have some significant connection to the area. All nominees must have made significant sports, cultural, or civic contributions to the region, or have enhanced Olympic region heritage. » Continue Reading.
With the bobsled and skeleton 2012 World Championships wrapping-up in Lake Placid, sliding sports enthusiasts will be gathering to celebrate the history of the sport at two events on Saturday. The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (USBSF) will induct its second class of Hall of Fame members at 2 pm this Saturday, Feb. 25 following the first two heats of the World Championship four-man bobsled race at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Lamy Lodge. Then, at the same location at 2:30 pm, the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) will unveil plans for a planned International Sliding Sports Museum (ISSM) and a related Science and Technology Park to be located at Mt Van Hoevenberg. » Continue Reading.
Lake Placid is once again hosting the bobsled and skeleton World Championships through February 26. Athletes from more than 20 nations are vying for the crown at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and the U.S. team hopes to gain momentum towards the 2014 Winter Olympic Games by medaling on their home track. Lake Placid’s own John Napier will compete in the four-man bobsled. “The World Championships are the pinnacle event of the season and a great gauge for our teams leading into the Olympic Games,” said Scott Novack, U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation High Performance Director.
The two-time Olympic village has staged eight World Championship races. The most recent was in 2009 when Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) piloted his four-man bobsled to victory to claim the first title for the men since 1959, and Shauna Rohbock (Park City, Utah) earned silver to continue a history of success for the women’s program.
Competition begins with the first two heats of women’s bobsled at 9:30 am on Friday, Feb. 17. Men’s two-man begins at 9 am on Feb. 18, followed by the medal deciding heats of women’s bobsled at 5 pm. Men’s two-man finals will be held at 9 am on Feb. 19, and a team competition will also take place at 1:30 pm.
Racing will continue on Feb. 23 with the first two heats of women’s skeleton at 9:30 am, and the final heats will take place the following morning at 9:45 am. Men’s skeleton athletes take to the ice at 5 pm on Feb. 24 and wrap up at 5 pm on Feb. 25. Men’s four-man bobsled competition will take place at 9 am on Feb. 25, and will conclude the event with the final two heats at 9 am on Feb. 26.
Tickets for the World Championships can purchased by online, calling 518-523-3330, or at the gate day of the event.
The selection committee met yesterday to decide teams competing in World Championships. Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas), Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.) and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) will compete in the USA-1 sled. Langton was selected to compete with Holcomb in the two-man sled.
John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.) will compete with Adam Clark (Owenton, Ky.), Chris Fogt (Alpine, Utah) and either Jesse Beckom (Chicago, Ill.) or Chuck Berkeley (Walnut Creek, Calif.) in the four-man sled, and Fogt will be Napier’s brakeman in the two-man sled.
Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) will pilot USA-3. The rookie driver will race with Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.) in two-man, and Johnny Quinn (McKinney, Texas), Robinson and either Beckom or Berkeley in four-man. Beckom and Berkeley will race off on Wednesday to determine if they will compete with USA-2 or USA-3 next weekend.
The U.S. will field three sleds in the women’s bobsled competition. Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.) will team with Katie Eberling (Palos Hills, Ill.) in the KOA sled as USA-1, while Bree Schaaf (Bremerton, Wash.) and Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif.) will partner in the Sliding for Hope sled as USA-2. Jazmine Fenlator (Wayne, N.J.) will compete with Ingrid Marcum (Elmhurst, Ill.) in the USA-3 FDNY sled to complete the roster.
Women’s skeleton athletes Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) and Annie O’Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) both hold records on the Lake Placid track and will be threats for the podium. Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wisc.) and John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) are expected to set the pace in the men’s skeleton event.
Watch live streaming of all events on www.FIBT.com, or take the action with you by downloading the Digotel Live+ for iOS iPhone app. NBC Universal Sports will also broadcast events on the following dates, with times listed in EST: Women’s bobsled at 10 pm on Feb. 18th, men’s two-man bobsled at 6 pm on Feb. 19th, team competition at 5:30 pm on Feb. 23rd, women’s skeleton at 6 pm on Feb. 24th, men’s skeleton at 10 pm on Feb. 25th and men’s four-man bobsled at 6 pm on Feb. 25th.
“Is our climate changing? This is a question heard often these days. Some are inclined to believe it is, but others are inclined to believe it is just one of those unusual open winters. The weather has been so mild that pussy willows are showing buds, woodchucks are out, and caterpillars were found crawling on the ground.” Those aren’t my words. They’re from the Norwood News, January 20, 1932.
On my way to the mailbox four times in the past week, I stepped between different types of insects on the sidewalk, a reminder of how unusual our weather has been. While reading about years past, it struck me how this mild winter parallels those of 1932 and 1933. In both instances, ice fishing was drastically curtailed by the open waters of Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. Fishermen were successful back then by using motorboats from Whitehall to Rouses Point, in the dead of winter, to access the best fishing spots.
Temperatures were often in the 50s, pleasant for sure, but not so much for business. Logging, a mainstay of the region’s economy, was months behind schedule. Even when brief cold snaps allowed construction of the required ice roads, balmy weather quickly turned them to slush and mud. Cut timber, ready to haul, lay in the woods until cold weather returned, which wasn’t often.
It was feared the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid would be cancelled due to a lack of snow: January’s temperatures averaged nearly 13 degrees above normal. At one point, the entire bobrun was washed out by heavy rain. Snow was hauled in by train to ensure the games would be held. A storm just days before the opening ceremonies helped, but warm temperatures caused problems throughout the Games.
In 1932 and 1933, events normally associated with summer occurred throughout the winter, grabbing everyone’s attention. In January: outdoor picnics; bicycling; ducks and geese flying north; the picking of wildflowers; and, in Whitehall, using the village street-sprinkler to suppress road dust.
In February: fishing from rafts at Port Henry; boating on Lake George and Lake Champlain; woodchucks, chipmunks, and other mammals out and about; blackbirds, robins, and other songbirds sighted regularly; and snakes (some of them hit by cars) seen on area roadways.
Both months saw golfers on area courses, interrupted only by occasional cold―and thunderstorms! Baseball players couldn’t resist the opportunity to play, although the effort was often better characterized as mudball. Still, in most any year, even playing catch in winter wasn’t even a consideration.
Experience tells us we’ll still get slammed this season, but just as folks did back then, we can marvel for now at how far into the new year the weather has remained so warm. It’s been a pleasure, and for me, a back-saver as well.
Photo: Headline from January, 1933.
Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
In late 1998 and the early months of 1999, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was an organization in crisis. Revelations of a slush fund employed by Salt Lake City officials to secure votes from a number of IOC members in support of the city’s bid for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games invited intense scrutiny of the organization by the international media.
The IOC and its president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, staggered through the opening weeks of the scandal, but ultimately Samaranch and key actors such as IOC Vice–President Richard Pound, Marketing Director Michael Payne, and Director General François Carrard weathered the storm, safeguarded the IOC’s autonomy, and subsequently spearheaded the push for reforms to the Olympic Charter intended to better position the IOC for the twenty–first century. In Tarnished Rings: The International Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake City Bid Scandal (Syracuse University Press, 2011), the authors delve into this fascinating story, exploring the genesis of the scandal and charting the IOC’s efforts to bring stability to its operations. Based on extensive research and unique access to primary source material, the authors offer a behind–the–scenes account of the politics surrounding the IOC and the bidding process. Wenn, Barney, and Martyn’s potent examination of this critical episode in Olympic history and of the presidency of Samaranch, who brought sweeping change to the Olympic Movement in the 1980s and 1990s, offers lessons for those interested in the IOC, the Olympic Movement, and the broader concepts of leadership and crisis management.
About the authors:
Stephen Wenn is professor of kinesiology and physical education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. He, Robert Barney, and Scott Martyn are the authors of Selling the Five Rings: The International Olympic Committee and the Rise of Olympic Commercialism.
Robert Barney is professor emeritus of kinesiology and the founding director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.
Scott Martyn is associate professor of human kinetics and founding director of the International Centre for Sport and Leisure Studies at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario.
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Home on holiday break from the World Cup circuit, Olympic biathlete Tim Burke has launched a limited-edition coffee with the Adirondack Bean-To. Proceeds from each bag of BurkeBeaner Hammer Roast sold this ski season will be donated to the campaign to build a new lodge at Dewey Mountain, where Burke learned to cross-country-ski race as a kid.
Burke went on to compete in two Olympics and to become the first American to lead the biathlon World Cup, in 2009. “I support Dewey because of all the great opportunities it provided me,” Burke said. “This was the place I could come not only to ski but to be with friends, meet new people and live a healthy, active lifestyle. That was important to my childhood, and I’d like other kids to have that opportunity as well.” » Continue Reading.
In 1962, Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov arrived at the World Championships, and were spotted by Dick Button, who was commentating for ABC sports. On Saturday night, the third of September 2011, he sat next to them during the Tribute show in their honor at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.
In an interview before the show, Button recounted what is special about the Protopopovs. “They had tunnel vision”, he said, “They are a vision of classical skating personified, skating at its very best. The Protopopovs started a generation of style on ice, which was carried on by skaters like John Curry and Janet Lynn”. After that championship in 1962, the Protopopovs skated to two Olympic titles and four world titles. As professionals, they skated in the World Professional championships, (capturing 4 titles) and performing with companies including the Leningrad Ice Ballet and the Ice Capades.
The Protopopovs defected from the Soviet Union in 1979, becoming citizens of Switzerland. They divide their time between Switzerland, their winter home, and Lake Placid, where they skate from June until October in the Olympic Center.
Their eventual landing in Lake Placid was very sudden. In 1997, the Protopopovs found themselves in the Olympic town after being told of the excellent facilities.
“Our friends were telling us, ‘you must go to Lake Placid, they have beautiful ice arenas’”, said Ludmila Protopopov. “We also wanted to learn from Gus Lussi, who was coaching there. Unfortunately, he had passed away, but when we came to Lake Placid we stayed forever”.
Ironically, Button’s story was similar.
“Everyone told my father, if you want him to get better at skating, send him to Lake Placid”, remembers Button. “Gus Lussi was considered the coach to work with, and we had a magical relationship…. I am still tied to Lake Placid, my family owns homes here”.
Watching the older couple skating on the rink, it is not apparent that they played an important part in the evolution of skating. Not many realize that the Protopopovs were the creators of a variation of the death spiral. The death spiral is a skating move, defined as “an element of pair skating performed with the man in a pivot position, one toe anchored in the ice…. holding his hand, the woman circles her partner on a deep edge with her body almost parallel to the ice”. The original death spiral was first executed in the 1940s, but the Protopopovs created their variations, the Cosmic, Life, and Love spirals, in the 1960s.
“It was a mistake on practice…I slipped from an outside edge to an inside edge. That is what we named the Cosmic spiral.
After the Cosmic spiral, (performed on the backward inside edge,) the Protopopovs invented the Life spiral (forward inside) and the Love spiral (forward outside).
Throughout their careers, whether they are competing, performing in shows, or practicing, the Protopopovs possess a unique dignity and class, both on and off the ice. Dick Button, himself a skating legend, has nothing but compliments for the pair.
“The Protopopovs were the first to be very different. They had a classical, pure style of skating; they were musical and uniform in their skating together. They are classic, balletic skaters; utter perfection. You don’t see skaters like them anymore”.
Button certainly knows what he’s talking about; the Emmy award-winning commentator has been involved in skating since the 1940s, when he was competing himself. He became the 1948 and 1952 Olympic champion, and 5 time World champion. His commentary career started in the 1960s, when he provided commentary for ABC sports. He continued to be a celebrity in figure skating, commentating at most major competitions, organizing several skating shows on television, and serving as figure skating’s most knowledgeable figure. Oleg Protopopov, despite his many achievements, still considers Dick Button an inspiration.
“When I was a boy, my mother brought me an American magazine with Dick Button on the cover. He was doing a split jump, and his position was so extended, his toes were pointed…my mother said, ‘one day you must skate better than him’. It never happened’ ”. Dick Button, however, considered them to have surpassed his skating achievements.
“After the Protopopovs skated, I learned what position and quality truly meant in figure skating”.
Both the Protopopovs and Button believed that skating should be an art form, equal to dance, music, and other creative forms of artistic expression. While current audiences seem to expect a sport instead of art, Button and Protopopov assert that attention should be given to the artistic side of the sport as well, not just the technical.
“What I encourage skaters to do is to take what they learned in a ballet class, or other sort of dance class, and incorporate it in skating”, said Button. “Figure skating can take elements of dance and use it…. it is interesting for me to note where figure skating has gone and where it hasn’t gone over the years”.
But the Protopopovs have held up artistry over the years, and continued skating. Even after Oleg’s stroke in 2009, they continued skating. Only a few weeks after his stroke, the Protopopovs were seen at the rink, Ludmila Protopopov patiently helping Oleg to re-learn how to skate. Skating served as his rehabilitation, and the Protopopovs were well practiced enough to perform a short exhibition performance in the tribute show on September 3rd.
Why do they continue skating? Certainly the Protopopovs are legends, and can retire if they chose. When asked why they continue to skate, Ludmila stated it succinctly:
“I love the music, the flow. Skating is our life”.
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