Press-Republican

January 15, 2014

Lake Placid set for Sochi celebrations

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — LAKE PLACID — The road from here to Sochi is being paved with Olympic spirit; it could lead to Olympic gold.

As rosters for Olympic teams solidify approaching the Feb. 7 start to the XXII Winter Games in Russia, New York’s Olympic village is getting its game on, too.

Banners will be raised above Lake Placid streets in coming days and storefronts bedecked in red, white and blue.

“We want to ensure that residents and visitors this January and February will be immersed in the incredible spirit of international competition that always permeates the atmosphere in Lake Placid,” Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said in a statement announcing the start of celebration here. 

“If you can’t be in Sochi, there’s no better place to be than two-time host Lake Placid during the Games.”

LOST FILM FOOTAGE

The kickoff celebration on Friday begins with a look back at Winter Olympics held here in 1932 and 1980.

High Peaks Resort is hosting an Olympic collectibles night, a kind of local “Antiques Roadshow” with appraisers and storytelling sessions.

Lori Fitzgerald, director of marketing at High Peaks Resort, came up with the idea to look back in looking forward to Sochi after she uncovered a 25-minute 16-mm film of the wrap-up of the 1980 Games.

“It was just stuffed in a closet in our sales office,” she said. “It was produced by Coca Cola for their sales team after the 1980 Games.” 

It includes short segments of the torch run in Lake Placid, she said, and some highlights from each sport in the games.

“It shows Eric Heiden winning his fifth gold medal on the (Speedskating) Oval and medal ceremonies from 1980,” she said.

“It also has shots of the people filling the streets and all the hoopla going on in the village. 

Now digitized, it will be shown at Friday’s event.

OLYMPIC ARTIFACTS

Such a find isn’t so unusual in homes and businesses around Lake Placid.

So Fitzgerald developed the Olympic Memories and Memorabilia celebration, inviting anyone and everyone to bring in long-held or nearly forgotten 1980 Olympic treasures.

Two Olympic memorabilia experts, Jon Becker and Doug Bigsby, will review items brought in.

Becker is qualified to appraise Olympic artifacts, Fitzgerald explained.

“He won’t be doing formal appraisals, but he will be able to tell people if something is of value. We are encouraging people to bring whatever they have. There are a lot of things people might take for granted — things that kids might have been given years ago; maybe their parents saved them and they’ve been packed away in a box for years.”

‘PEOPLE EVERYWHERE’

Some items could prove unique, in particular the Olympic capes worn by marching bands in the 1980 parades, as none have surfaced since, Fitzgerald said.

Even the site for the start-up celebration is steeped in Olympic heritage.

High Peaks, formerly the Lake Placid Hilton, was headquarters for ABC Sports during the 1980 Olympics. 

“ABC Sports essentially lived in the Lake Placid Hilton for six weeks in 1980,” Fitzgerald said. “Their corporate president, Roone Arlidge, used the fourth-floor parking deck as a heliport. It was his way of getting here. 

“You couldn’t drive anywhere. There were people everywhere.”

TRIVIA CONTEST

Memories and Memorabilia night will take place in the High Peaks banquet room that in 1980 was the Dancing Bears Lounge, which was a gathering spot at the end of competition each day.

Periodically throughout Friday’s four-hour celebration, historians Jim Rogers of Lake Placid and Howard Riley of Saranac Lake will initiate storytelling sessions, sharing little-known and unique moments from the 1980 Games.

The entire event at High Peaks is being filmed by Mountain Lakes PBS with an “Antiques Roadshow”-like focus, for airing closer to opening ceremonies in Sochi.

Meantime, the Lake Placid Visitor and Convention Bureau is set to start a 1980 Olympic Trivia Contest, revealing facts about 30 1980 Games moments hidden around town.

Kim Reilly, spokeswoman for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, will start tweeting hints and posting them online on Thursday.

Fitzgerald said all the facts will be contained in that one room on Friday.

‘WHO WE ARE’

During the Olympic Games, 1980 trivia will be hidden in plain sight at local stores and at Olympic venues.

“The clues will point to where you might find one of these 30 bits of Olympic trivia. And when you go somewhere where there is a fact, like in a local store or business, they will have a box where you can enter to win prizes.”

Lake Placid businesses donated prizes for each bit of Olympic trivia. And drawings will be held for every one, with a grand prize at the end of the Sochi games giving away a two-night stay at High Peaks with lift tickets to Whiteface and Olympic Passports.

LOCAL ATHLETES

The festivities are meant to celebrate a heritage of winter sports in Lake Placid that will deliver well-trained athletes to Russia in a few weeks.

“There are literally a dozen or more local athletes going to Sochi from here. We’ve sent athletes to every Winter Olympic games since 1924,” Fitzgerald said.

The athletes aren’t just names on a roster with a number and a rank.

“These are our friends and our neighbors. And a lot of our youth are in Olympic training programs — it is our future,” she said.

“The Winter Olympics are a past, present, future thing. We embody the Olympic spirit. 

“It’s so much of who we are.”

Email Kim Smith Dedam kdedam@pressrepublican.com.

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IF YOU GO

The kickoff Olympic Memories and Memorabilia event on Friday, Jan. 17, is open to the public, free of charge, at High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid.

Memorabilia tables open at 5:30, with storytelling sessions throughout the evening, ending at 9:30 p.m.

North Elba Historical Society President Jen Turfano is also bringing special Olympic artifacts from the 1932 Winter Games and artifacts from the former Lake Placid Club.

Hints for the 1980 Winter Games Trivia Contest scavenger hunt will be promoted on Lake Placid's social media channels starting on Thursday. Look for them @LakePlacidADK on Twitter and on Facebook at facebook.com/LakePlacidADK.