Lake Placid is one of only three cities world-wide to have hosted two Olympic Winter Games, 1932 and 1980. Since then, it has played host to annual World Cup events and other large-scale sporting competitions.
The community is set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games from February 13-23.
The 10-day event celebrates the Games that have long been remembered for the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team’s improbable win over the Russians, known as the “Miracle on Ice”; for speed skater Eric Heiden’s five gold medals, in world or Olympic record time; and the United States figure skating team, dubbed the “Dream Team.” More than 20 Olympians are expected to participate in the public events.
Lake Placid has sent at least one athlete to every winter Games, and in total, has sent over 100 athletes to compete, since the first modern winter Games in 1924. Several area athletes have recently medalled, including Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid), a two-time Olympic medalist in Super-G; Billy Demong (Vermontville), a two-time Olympic medalist and Olympic champion in Nordic Combined and Chris Mazdzer (Saranac Lake), an Olympic silver medalist in men’s singles luge.
Recently Added Events:
Dream On, The 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Figure Skating Reunion Gala – Join Scott Hamilton and several members of 1980 U.S. figure skating team as they celebrate 40 years since they skated in the Lake Placid Winter Games. Dream On, The 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Figure Skating Reunion Gala will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 7 pm. Dinner takes place on the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena ice, followed by the show. The show includes performances by current U.S. pair champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc, U.S. men’s champion Ryan Bradley and U.S. ice dance champions of Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Along with their performances, there will be a multi-media presentation and discussion with members of the 1980 Olympic Figure Skating team. On-ice gala dinner tickets are available for $980 per table or $125 per person. Corporate sponsorship tables are also available. Call (518) 302-5397. General admission tickets for the skating show are available at Tickets.com, by phone at (518) 523-3330 and at the Olympic Center Box Office.
Olympian Dan Jansen: Perseverance and Perspective – Hear four-time Olympian and 1994 speed skating gold medalist Dan Jansen’s heart-wrenching story, in his own words, from missing his chance at 1988 Olympic medal hours after hearing of his sister’s passing to his experience of triumph in the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Jansen will speak and participate in a meet and greet at the High Peaks Resort on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 7 pm. This event is free and open to the public. For younger fans, Jansen will also be appearing at the Lake Placid Public Library during their crafts event on Saturday morning from 10 am to noon.
Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer – At 3 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 18, Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton will lead community members in a Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer event, held on the Olympic speed skating oval. This “Frozen 5K” skate-a-thon is the signature fundraiser of the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, a not-for-profit 501 c (3) dedicated to changing the future of cancer funding, research and patient care. A portion of the proceeds raised goes to Adirondack Health. More information is available on the Foundation’s event website.
Lake Placid’s Olympic Legacy: An Athlete’s Perspective – This event features conversations with past, present, and future Olympians to understand their perspective on Lake Placid’s Olympic legacy and how it has and will impact future Olympic careers. The free event features Buzz Schneider (member of the Miracle on Ice team); Gordy Sheer (1992 Olympic silver medalist, doubles luge and Lake Placid resident); Erin Hamlin (four-time Olympian and the first American female luge athlete to medal at the Winter Olympics; Tim Burke (Four-time Olympic Biathlete from nearby Paul Smith’s, NY); Van Ledger (Jr. Olympian in 2020 in Biathlon and Lake Placid native); Maddy Cohen (Jr. Olympian in 2020 in Mono-Bobsled) Monobob is a new sliding sport and Maddy is currently the only female member of the U.S. team and resides in Lake Placid. Hosted by the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on Monday, Feb. 17, at 7 pm.
Other events include a Torch Run with 1980 Olympic Winter Games torchbearers and local athletes, followed by lighting of the 1980 Olympic Cauldron on the grounds of the Opening Ceremonies. State and local officials and past, present and future Olympians will be part of the ceremony. The evening ends in fireworks. A Be a Biathlete! Experience is also planned, along with a screening of the Disney movie Miracle at the Palace Movie Theatre (Admission and popcorn are free). There will be a book signing with New York Times best seller Boys of Winter author Wayne Coffey (the book is an account of the Miracle on Ice). Author Mike Burgess will sign his books A Long Shot to Glory and Keeper of the Olympic Flame. There is also an 80s Family Fun Party at the Olympic Ski Jumps, an 80s themed trivia night, and more. For more information, schedule, and updates, visit LakePlacid40.com.
Photo of Lake Placid Olympic torch runner courtesy Lake Placid Olympic Museum.
A version of this article first appeared on the Adirondack Almanack.