Lake Placid set up a wonderful and rich programme to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Olympic Games! You have hosted a full set of activities and events, from exhibitions to sports initiations, from 80’s fun parties to the torch run and the athletes’ forum! Why is this Olympic marker so important?
Lake Placid’s long association with the Olympic Winter Games includes celebrations of landmark anniversaries commemorating both the 1932 and the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. This year’s programme to observe the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Olympic Games placed special emphasis on engaging the entire Lake Placid community and its spirit of Olympism.
How did you make the link past-present-future tangible during these celebrations?
The Olympic cauldron was re-lit at its original 1980 venue thereby setting the stage for celebrations as past Olympians from all disciplines were welcomed throughout a 14-day period. A milestone reunion of the United States’ 1980 figure-skating team was followed by a gala skating show featuring past, current and future Olympians. Anniversary activities took place at all Olympic venues and featured opportunities to not simply view a discipline but also to participate in it. Retired, current and aspiring Olympic athletes were eager participants in panel discussions, “meet & greet” events, educational forums, exhibitions etc. All were thrilled to have the opportunity to share their experiences and their aspirations with Lake Placid’s citizens and visitors to the city. The accessibility and inclusiveness of the anniversary’s events made the “past-present-future” link tangible to all.“ Come to the town where the legacy lives on” is the motto of the celebrations. The whole city and its citizens live Olympism, breath Olympism and contribute to Olympism. Lake Placid embodies what a living legacy is, on a daily basis. Celebrations just allow more people to participate and showcase the City and its glorious history.
Lake Placid is also very well-known for the engagement of its volunteer community. How do you explain the engagement of the population towards its Olympic legacy, not only for special events but also as a “way of life”?
Sports on ice and snow are a “way of life” for the people of Lake Placid and blending sport into the fabric of everyday life takes place without thought. Lake Placid’s uniqueness as a “small mountain community” (from J. Bernard Fell’s remarks at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games’ opening ceremonies) makes it easy and natural to feel connected to an ongoing Olympic legacy as an athlete, a coach, a volunteer or simply as one who embraces the Olympic ideal.
Lake Placid breeds Olympians! How do you manage to maintain a high level winter sports training centre and to permanently upgrade venues and facilities?
It is important to acknowledge that New York State’s commitment to maintain the 1980 Olympic Winter Games’ venues at international standards and to provide expert management of these same venues through its Olympic Regional Development Authority contribute significantly to Lake Placid’s success in attracting the combined resources of private and additional public sector investment. These factors complemented by the location of the USOPC’s Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid ensure that our city’s legacy within the Olympic movement remains current and vibrant.
Lake Placid is very active in hosting international events, such as the Children’s Games, or the Winter World University Games. How does these kinds of events contribute to keeping the flame alive and activating the Olympic legacy?
As our city eagerly prepares to host the 2021 IBSF World Championships Bobsleigh and Skeleton and the 2023 FISU World University Games, Lake Placid and its citizens continue to sustain a sense of ownership in the spirit of the Olympic ideal as we explore the feasibility of a bid for the 2028 Youth Olympic Games.