Tag Archives: Olympic History

Olympic Museum Speed Skating Exhibit Opens


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Visitors to the Quest for Speed exhibit try the Skate to the Beat activityA new permanent exhibit has sped into the Lake Placid Olympic Museum that celebrates one of the original Lake Placid winter sports—speed skating. “Quest for Speed” features various displays explaining the history of the sport and its origins and impact in Lake Placid.

Skaters profiled included local Olympic stars Charles Jewtraw and Jack Shea, and of course Wisconsin-native Eric Heiden, who won an unparalleled five gold medals at the 1980 Olympic Games. Museum director Alison Haas interviewed several champions in the sport to research the exhibit, including traveling to Salt Lake City to interview Eric Heiden. Continue reading

1932 Olympics: Speed Skater Spawned Suit


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JaffeeTo most, Irving Jaffee will best be remembered for the two gold medals he won in the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid. To others, he will forever be the man over whom two legendary Catskill hotels went to court one winter.

Jaffee was among the greatest speed skaters of his generation. He turned in the fastest time in the 10,000 meters at the 1928 Olympics in St. Moritz, only to have the event canceled without an official winner because unseasonably warm temperatures had thawed the ice. Four years later, in Lake Placid, Jaffe won gold medals in both the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races as American men swept all four speed skating events. Continue reading

The Lake Placid Legacy of Willis Wells


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WillisWellsNYHAmong the folks who played an important role in Northern New York regional history and personified the traditional Christmas spirit was Willis Wells of Lake Placid.

Long before Willis gained attention, his father, Duran, a native of Peru, New York, 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. Continue reading

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.