Beyond the podium

Saturday, February 27, 2010

By MIKE LYNCH, Adirondack Daily Enterprise

The 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games and the aura it created in this region inspired a whole generation of U.S. Olympic athletes from the Adirondacks, including gold-medalist Billy Demong of Vermontville and biathlete Tim Burke. But it also helped inspire Ethiopia's first Winter Olympian - cross-country skier Robel Teklemariam.
Teklemariam recently completed his second Winter Olympics as the sole representative from the African country not known for its snow.

Born in Addis Ababa, the capitol of Ethiopia, Teklemariam moved with his family to New York City in the mid-1980s when he was 9. At the time, his mother worked for the United Nations. Unhappy with public schools in the city, Teklemariam started attending boarding school at North Country School in Lake Placid in 1986. He had attended and enjoyed Camp Treetops at NCS the two previous summers.

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Locals working behind the scenes at Vancouver Olympics

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From Chris Knight - Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Photo Credit of Gordy Sheer and Mark Grimmette: AP

While North Country athletes competing at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver have been grabbing the headlines, and rightfully so, another group of local residents have quietly been making a contribution to the games.

More than a dozen people from the Tri-Lakes area have been working at the Olympics, helping to run bobsled, luge and skeleton races, setting up interviews and photo shoots for athletes, organizing sponsor events and taking on a host of other behind-the-scenes roles.

They've been at the center of some of the high and low points of these games - from the historic medal streak of the U.S. alpine skiing team to the tragic death of a luge athlete just as the games were getting started.

"It's been a fantastic games," said Doug Haney of Saranac Lake, alpine press officer for the U.S. Ski Team. "I don't think anyone going into these Olympics thought we would have captured eight medals in alpine skiing."

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Will There Be Another Miracle on Ice?

Monday, February 22, 2010

It happened 30 years ago, when the underdog U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviets 4-3 at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, then went on to win the gold medal.

You were born to be a player; you were meant to be here. - Coach Herb Brooks to his seventh-seeded hockey team, of mostly college players, before the Soviet matchup
And maybe they'll do it again - having just unexpectedly defeated the Canadian team at the Vancouver Olympics, 5-3.

You can, of course, watch that 1980 hockey victory again in our film, Small Town, Big Dreams: Lake Placid's Olympic Story, available through PBS and on Amazon. (It's sold out now on Amazon, but a new shipment will arrive soon.)

Maybe hockey history is about to be made again.


Do You Believe in Miracles? This Torchbearer Does

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Andrea Harris was one of 52 torchbearers selected to carry the Olympic Flame from Yorktown, Virginia to Lake Placid, New York, for the 1980 Olympics. "This particular torch relay journey was a first in the history of the Modern Games and continues to be the only torch relay team that ran as a team from the start of the relay (Yorktown) to the arrival in Lake Placid," she says.

In her post, she tells about her group of torchbearers, and how they have kept in touch.

...the greatest thrill was standing inside the Olympic Stadium as we watched our fellow torchbearer, Charles M. Kerr, light the flame that began the XIII Olympic Winter Games. As we stood beside the Olympic caldron and doves were released, the ceremony was breathtaking.

And yes, we had the opportunity to see all the events, including Eric Heiden’s monumental capture of 5 gold medals and 4 Olympic speed skating records. And who can ever forget the 1980 “Miracle” American Hockey Team? I was there. I saw the game. I met the team and congratulated them as they received their medals.

Our torch relay team became the “darlings” of Lake Placid. We were chosen to exemplify “the Greek ideal of the whole person’ and the spirit of the Olympics. The Village of Lake Placid and Olympic tourists connected with our contagious enthusiasm during a time when the world was shaken with concerns not unlike those of today.
Do you believe in miracles? she asks. I do.

Lake Placid is celebrating the 30th anniversary of those 1980 Olympic Games, with a weekend of activities that includes showing our movie, Small Town, Big Dreams: Lake Placid's Olympic Story in a double-header with Miracle - with the STBG filmmakers Marc Nathanson and Scott F. Carroll in attendance and 1980 hockey player Buzz Sneider.


Remembering a "Miracle," 30 Years Later, on the Arena Where It Happened

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

No one expected the U.S. to win the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics, because the Soviets were considered unstoppable. But they did, giving the nation that seemingly miraculous, wonderful moment that Sports  Illustrated called the greatest sports moment of the 20th century - and broadcaster Al Michaels' great line Do you believe in miracles? 

And after defeating the Soviets, the U.S. hockey players won their next game, and that famous gold.

In Small Town, Big Dreams: Lake Placid's Olympic Story, hockey team captain Mike Eruzione says

I don't think we could have won if the Games were held elsewhere - because the crowd was so important, being in our own country was so important ... everybody was around you, I mean, the fans were everywhere, it's not like it was spread out so far that you didn't see people. You could see the fun people were having just being there. And it made you realize how great the Olympics are.

If you can make it to Lake Placid this week, you can see the movie and the hockey victory on the big screen in the arena where it happened. Small Town, Big Dreams is being shown at 7 pm Thursday, Feb. 11, in the Herb Brooks Arena as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the 1980 Olympics, and filmmakers Marc Nathanson and Scott F. Carroll will be there. The movie will be followed by Disney's 1984 Miracle, starring Kurt Russell as the late Herb Brooks, coach of the winning team.

Suggested donation is $8 adults and $5 children and seniors, with proceeds going to the Lake Placid Olympic Winter Museum.

If you can't make it, you'll just have to watch the movie on your local PBS station. Or buy it.


Our Local Olympians

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From the Adirondack Daily Enterprise

A dozen full-time residents of the Adirondacks (Lake Placid and the Saranac Lake area, really) will compete in the Winter Olympics next month. The two final hopefuls, Andrew Weibrecht and Ashley Caldwell, found out Tuesday they made the cut.

Six of those 12 were born and raised here, three have lived here since their early teens (one is still just 16), and three more settled here as adults after living here part-time for years while training.

On top of that dozen, an Olympic luger from Connecticut has family from Saranac Lake, and northern New York can also boast of a world champion luger from Remsen, just south of the Adirondack Park border, and a speed skater from the Capital District. And then there are the entire U.S. luge, bobsled and skeleton teams, who are based in Lake Placid and live here for several months a year while training.

The games start two weeks from Friday and will end on Feb. 28 in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. The Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Lake Placid News will publish a comprehensive Olympic preview section, full of local athlete profiles and much more, on the opening day, Feb. 12.

The Enterprise and News are also sending two of their staff to cover the games: Senior Sports Writer Lou Reuter and Managing Editor Peter Crowley. The list of local athletes they'll be following is below:



* Lowell Bailey, 28, Lake Placid, biathlon (skiing and target shooting)

* Tim Burke, 27 (28 on Feb. 3), Paul Smiths, biathlon

* Bill Demong, 29, Vermontville, nordic combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing)

* Peter Frenette, 17 (18 on Feb. 24), Saranac Lake, ski jumping

* Haley Johnson, 28, Lake Placid, biathlon

* Andrew Weibrecht, 23 (24 on Feb. 10), Lake Placid, alpine skiing



* Chris Mazdzer, 21, Saranac Lake, luge

* Ashley Caldwell, 16, Lake Placid (formerly South Carolina and Virginia), aerial freestyle ski jumping

* John Napier, 23, Lake Placid (formerly Schenectady), bobsled



* Mark Grimmette, 39, Lake Placid (formerly Muskegon, Mich.), doubles luge

* Brian Martin, 36, Lake Placid (formerly Palo Alto, Calif.), doubles luge

* Bengt Walden, 36, Lake Placid (formerly Sweden), luge



* Megan Sweeney, 22 (23 on Feb. 17), Suffield, Conn. (father's family from Saranac Lake), luge



* Erin Hamlin, 23, Remsen (lives in Lake Placid while training), luge

* Trevor Marsicano, 20, Ballston Spa, speed skating


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