Tag Archives: Olympic History

Lake Placid Hockey History Lectures Planned


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hockey lecture 5The Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society has announced the third program of its 2014 “Odds and Ends” Winter Lecture Series on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 in the Legacy Room at the Lake Placid Convention Center. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m.

This program in the four-part series is titled, “A History of Hockey in Lake Placid” presented by Denny Allen, Butch Martin and Steve Reed. The Historical Society, the Olympic Museum and Northwood School will showcase a display of memorabilia. Continue reading

New Olympic Museum Exhibit Celebrates Sonja Henie


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Sonja HenieThe 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

Lake Placid Olympics 1932 Rink Renovation Underway


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Renovation to the facade of the Lake Placid Olympic Center’s 1932 rink is underway. The contractors, J.T. Erectors, are restoring the structure to its original appearance in the 1930’s. Some of the work includes the installation of windows that have been enclosed by brink since prior to the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

The revitalization project is being financed through the remaining funds from a grant through Empire State Development, which funded the construction of the newly completed Conference Center at Lake Placid.

 When complete the 1932 facility, along with its conventional use for skating and hockey and akin to the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, will join the conference center to provide nearly 100,000 square feet of convention space. The fresh look will complement the conference center, which opened for business May 2011.

International Sliding Sports Museum Moves Forward


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Phase-one of the International Sliding Sports Museum at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, in Lake Placid, is scheduled to debut this summer. 2012 world bobsled champion Steven Holcomb (center) was presented with a copy of his “Legends of Mt. Van Hoevenberg” poster during a ceremony held last Wednesday, at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum. The poster is part of the legends project, which was unveiled during the FIBT World Bobsled and Skeleton Championships, held in Lake Placid in February.

Billed as the first of its kind anywhere in the world, the museum will feature the history of the sports of bobsled, luge and skeleton and will also exhibits tracing the evolution of equipment and sections of past and present sliding tracks with a display explaining how those tracks were built. Plans are being developed for a historical walking tour of the 1932/1980 track and the new combined track with informational signage creating a self-guided exploration of the venue.

Organizers hope to build a comprehensive sliding display that will include historic race sleds, equipment, video, photographs, medals and trophies. Several of these items are already on display at the Olympic museum.

Photo: Steven Holcomb (center) with (L-R) Ted Blazer, ORDA president/CEO; Jack Favro, associate director of Lake Placid Olympic Training Center; Joe Lamb, community organizer; Craig Randall, Village of Lake Placid mayor; and Mary Lou Brown, chairman of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

Olympic Museum Changes Name to Reflect Collection


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What’s in a name? Take the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum as an example. When guests visit the museum, located in the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., they believe that they’ll only view and experience artifacts from both the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, but there’s so much more. Not only does the museum feature items from the two Games held in Lake Placid, displays also include pieces from every Olympic Winter Games dating back to 1924. That’s why the museum worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee to obtain International Olympic Committee (IOC) approval to change its name to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.



“Visitors to the museum often said the collection represented more than the two Games held in Lake Placid and we agree that the name should reflect that,” said New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer. “The museum’s collections have grown over the years to encompass representation from each of the Olympic Winter Games, as well as the Olympic Games. With that expansion we felt it was important that the name of the museum mirror the breadth of the museum.”

Established in 1994, the Lake Placid Olympic Museum is the only one of its kind in the United States. In fact, it holds the largest Winter Games collection outside of the IOC’s Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. It’s also the only museum to have received the Olympic Cup, which is the oldest award given by the IOC.

“As the collections have grown and the presentations have become wider in scope, so has the need to change the name,” added museum director, Liz De Fazio. “As we move forward in getting this museum to be a full member of the IOC’s Olympic Museum Network, I feel this will bring us closer to that international look and feel.”

While touring the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, guests can view the first Olympic Winter Games medal ever won, a gold medal, earned by speedskater and Lake Placid native Charles Jewtraw during the 1924 Winter Games. Displays also feature athletes’ participation medals from every modern Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games, as well as Olympic Team clothing and competition gear from several Games, including the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The museum’s collection also includes costumes from Olympic figure skating legend Sonja Henie and several world cup and world championship trophies captured by U.S. bobsled and luge athletes, artifacts from the famed 1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, as well as Olympic medals.

The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is located at the box office entrance of the Olympic Center at 2634 Main Street and is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for juniors and seniors, while children six and under are free. For more information about the museum, log on to www.whiteface.com/museum.

Lake Placid Olympic Musum Establishes Endowment


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In memory of longtime Winter Olympic supporter and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Organizing Committee member Philip G. Wolff, the Lake Placid 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum announces the kickoff of its first endowment fund campaign in a public ceremony, Thursday, June 30. With the completion of the campaign in 2013, the endowment fund, named in Mr. Wolff’s honor, is hoped to allow the Museum to increase its pace of collecting, strengthen its extensive collection, and bring more artifacts of the Winter Games back to the region where America’s Winter Olympic movement began.

“Over time, this endowment will allow the Museum to add to its collection with such items as Olympic torches from the 1952 Oslo (Norway) and 1960 Squaw Valley (Calif.) games, which Dad would have loved to have seen in his lifetime,” said David Wolff, Phil Wolff’s son and now a member of the Museum’s board.

“The endowment fund will also provide continuous support for the Museum to enhance and increase its educational programming for visiting families, adjust to fluctuations in giving, and reduce dependence on overstrained public and private funding sources,” added MaryLou Brown, Museum Board president.

Philip G. Wolff, who died in February, was a founder of the Lake Placid 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum and a member of the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympic bid committees. In 1978, he was appointed chief of staff of the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, a position he held until its closure in 1987, volunteering his time during the last three years of that assignment. He also served as chief of the security committee for the 1980 Winter Games. Wolff was instrumental in the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum, being awarded the 2005 Olympic Cup by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). More recently, Wolff played a key role in getting the Lake Placid 1932 and 1980 Olympic Bobsled Track named to the National Register of Historic Places. Wolff spoke at a ceremony to mark that designation, which was also attended by Gov. David Paterson (D-New York), in June of last year. At the time of his death, Wolff was the oldest living licensed bobsled driver in the U.S.

The campaign kickoff for the Philip G. Wolff endowment fund will take place at a celebration of Wolff’s life to be held June 30 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the new Olympic Conference Center in Lake Placid. His many friends are invited to attend to honor this man who gave so much to the Museum and to the local area.

The 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum is an independent, not-for-profit corporation. Its mission is to collect and preserve artifacts and archival materials associated with Lake Placid’s winter sports and winter Olympic heritage; to interpret Lake Placid’s winter sports and winter Olympic heritage to the public; and to preserve and maintain the collection of artifacts and archives assembled by the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee.

The only official Olympic museum in the United States, Lake Placid’s 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum features the largest collection of winter Olympic artifacts outside the IOC’s museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. The collection includes the first Winter Olympic medal ever awarded – for the 500 meter speed skating competition – won by Lake Placid native Charles Jewtraw in the 1924 Games in Chamonix. His historic medal can be viewed with other items in the Museum collection, including equipment worn by 1980 U.S. Hockey Team goalie Jim Craig during the historic Miracle on Ice, parade clothing from the 1932 winter games, athletes participation medals and Olympic medals from every winter Olympics.

Miracle on Ice Stories Sought


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It’s been called the greatest sports moment of the century. The Miracle on Ice, Feb. 22, 1980, when the U.S hockey team, made up of 20 college kids, upset the Soviets 4-3 during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., on their way to winning the improbable gold medal. Now it’s your turn to tell your story—where you were during that historic day that united the nation? How did that win against the Soviets inspire you?

Do you have a story to tell about that day? If you do, submit your story to the United States’ goaltender Jim Craig, jimcraigbook@optonline.net, for your chance to tell your story in an upcoming book of the memories about that game with the Soviets.

What do you remember about the morale of the country at the time of the victory? Maybe you remember where you were and what you were doing. Or maybe this win served to inspire your life.

The two winning stories will receive a Miracle movie poster, personally signed by Craig. The deadline is May 31, 2011. By submitting your essay, you’re granting permission to publish your story.

Olympic Bobsled Track Added to National Register


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Lake Placid’s 1932 and 1980 Olympic bobsled track will officially become a part of the National Register of Historic Places during a plaque unveiling ceremony on Monday, July 12. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. on the deck of the Lamy Lodge.

The original one-and-a-half mile long track (photo taken during construction at left) at Mt. Van Hoevenberg was completed in Dec. 1930, in time for the 1932 Olympic Winter Games, and since that time has played a significant role in the sport of bobsled’s history. It was during those games that Olympic two-man racing was introduced as well as the push start.

In 1934, the International Bobsled Federation (FIBT) established a one-mile standard for all tracks. To accommodate the change, the top one-half mile was shut down above the Whiteface curve and the number of curves was reduced from 26 to 16, making the upper portion of the run unusable.

The 1,537-meter long course has also hosted five world championship races (1949, 1969, 1973, 1978, 1983) and one more Olympic event, in 1980. The 1949 Worlds also marked the first time a track outside of Europe had hosted that event.

Today, the track no longer hosts international competitions, but it remains in use. Summer bobsled rides are held on the course, where visitors can enjoy half-mile rides, reaching speeds in excess of 50-miles-per-hour, with professional drivers steering their sleds.

Guest speakers during the National Registry ceremony include New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer; representatives from Town of North Elba, the Village of Lake Placid, New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Museum member Phil Wolff, who was also instrumental in the track’s efforts to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Admission to the ceremony is free after 2 p.m. A guided tour with Guy Stephenson, licensed NYS guide, Wilmington Historical Society member, and retired Olympic Sports Complex staff member responsible for the restoration work on the 1932 portion of the track, will also begin at 2 p.m. Tour participants will be bussed to the 1980 start to begin the one-hour walk up the 1932 piece of the track. Light hiking attire is suggested.

Also from 2-4 p.m., in celebration of the national historic registry, half-mile long wheeled bobsled rides on the 1932 and 1980 Olympic track will be available for $55 per person. Bobsled rides have been a continuous part of the track’s operations since it first opened, Christmas 1930.

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. For other listings and more information about the National Register of Historic Places, log on to www.nps.gov/nr.

Established in 1982, the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) was created by the State of New York to manage the facilities used during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games at Lake Placid. ORDA operates Whiteface and Gore Mountain ski areas; the Olympic Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg; the Olympic speedskating oval, Olympic jumping complex and Olympic arena. As host to international and national championships.

Warhorse’s Olympic Bronze at Olympic Museum


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The Lake Placid 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum has added another piece to its collection of artifacts from last February’s 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, Andrew Weibrecht’s men’s Super-G bronze medal.

Weibrecht’s bronze medal helped spark the U.S. alpine ski team to a record eight medals in Vancouver. Overall, the U.S. Olympic squad celebrated its best Olympics ever, claiming the overall medal count with 37.

“The medal was turned over for display and for safe keeping between appearances,” noted museum curator Liz Defazio. “It’s so nice for these athletes to have a place where they can share their accomplishments with others… sort of their home away from home.”

Nicknamed the “Warhorse” on the international alpine ski tour, Weibrecht began skiing at the age of five at Whiteface Mountain and began racing with the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) program by the time he was 10. He had only been on the World Cup circuit since 2006 and Vancouver was his first Olympic Winter Games.

There are quite a number of artifacts on display in the museum from the 2010 winter games donated by several of the 12 area athletes who competed, as well as coaches and officials. The artifacts include race gear, Opening Ceremony clothing, official U.S. Olympic team clothing, event tickets, programs and pins.

Lake Placid’s 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Museum features the largest collection of winter Olympic artifacts outside the International Olympic Committee’s museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. Some of the artifacts include the first Winter Olympic medal awarded, gold in 1924 in Chamonix, France, to Lake Placid native and speedskater Charles Jewtraw, equipment worn by U.S. goalie Jim Craig during the 1980 winter games, parade clothing from the 1932 winter games, athletes participation medals and Olympic medals from every winter Olympics.

Admission to the museum is $6 for adults and $4 for juniors and seniors. Admission is also included when purchasing an Olympic Sites Passport. The Passport gives visitors access to each of ORDA’s Olympic venues—from Whiteface Mountain to the Olympic Sports Complex and everything in between. Sold for $29 at the ORDA Store and all of our ticket offices, the Passport saves you time, money, and gets you into the venues at a good value. For more information about the Olympic Sites Passport, log on to http://www.whiteface.com/summer/plan/passport.php.

Photo: Andrew Weibrecht’s Super-G Bronze Medal. Courtesy 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Museum, Lake Placid, NY.

Olympic Bobsled Track Named to National Register


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The National Register of Historic Places has listed the 1932 and 1980 Olympic bobsled track, located on Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, N.Y., on its national registry for historic places.

Clearing for the original one and a half, 26-curve course began in August 1930 and the track, specifically built for the 1932 winter games, was open to the public just 148 days later, Christmas Day 1930. More than 27,000 cubic yards of earth and stone were used for the straight-aways and curves, while 8,000 feet of pipe, laid four feet underground, was buried to carry the water used to spray the ice from a pond near the base to the top. A gasoline engine and pump forced the water to the top of the run, where a large storage tank guaranteed a continuous supply of water.


The United States’ bobsled team was right at home on the first track ever built in North America and the first-ever one and a half mile course used in Olympic competition. The team won two gold medals, one silver and one bronze. Billy Fiske, who four years earlier at the age of 16 became the youngest-ever Olympic gold medalist, claimed the four-man crown, while fellow American Henry Homburger of Saranac Lake, N.Y., claimed silver. Two brothers from Lake Placid, Curtis and Hubert Stevens, won the two-man race, while their teammates, John Heaton and Robert Minton, took bronze. That event also marked the first-ever two-man race in Olympic history and the first time athletes pushed their sleds at the start.

In 1934 the International Bobsled Federation (FIBT) established a one-mile standard for all tracks. To accommodate the change, the top one-half mile was shut down above the Whiteface curve and the number of curves was reduced from 26 to 16, making the upper portion of the run unusable.

Fifteen years later, the 1,537-meter long course became the first track outside of Europe to host a world championship competition and it was then that Belgian bobsledder Max Houben was killed during a practice run when sliding through the “Shady” curve, prior to the race. Today, the four-man world championship trophy is named in Houben’s honor.

As sled technology improved and speeds grew, changes were made to the course and it took 12 more years before world championship racing returned, in 1961. Throughout the decade of the 1960’s tracks throughout the world continued to try to keep up with sled technology as the request for speed knew no limits. From time to time crashes and tragedy would strike those tracks … even Lake Placid. In 1966, Canadian pilot Sergio Zardini (1964 Olympic silver medalist for Italy) was killed when his four-man sled crashed on turns 13 and 14, better known as the “Zig-Zag Curves.”

With the improvements made and with the blessing of the FIBT, the course hosted Worlds three more times, 1969, 1973 and 1978. Other sports including luge and skeleton also began using the course before it was demolished and re-built in 1979, in time for the 1980 Olympic bobsled competition.

The re-construction included installing refrigeration piping and the building of a refrigeration plant at the base of the run, operated by electricity, with a stand-by generator for emergencies. Following the 1980 games, the track hosted the 1983 world championships before the current combined bobsled/luge/skeleton track was built in 2000.

Today, the track no longer hosts international competitions, but it remains in use. Summer bobsled rides are held on the course, where visitors can enjoy half-mile rides, while reaching speeds in excess of 50-miles-per-hour, while professional drivers steer their sleds through “Shady” and “Zig-Zag.”

Kathleen LaFrank of New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation helped to direct the research. She gathered much of the data and pictures required for the nomination of New York’s historical sites and the additional honor of being named to the National Registry as well.

“The bobsled run is internationally recognized for its association with the 1932 games and the rise of the sport in the United States,” stated Olympic Sports Complex general manager Tony Carlino. “Athletes and visitors from all over the world know of this track, and there are very few worldwide that carry this kind of history. The creation of this track helped to make Lake Placid famous as a winter sports capital.”

Photo: Construction workers lay rocks as they build the Mt. Van Hoevenberg bobsled track, in 1930 in anticipation of the 1932 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. (Photo Courtesy of ORDA)