As construction crews continue to work on the various Olympic venues in Lake Placid, as well as it's downtown, this winter sports village is ready to for its future, which here is led by its past.
“We love winter sports, and this is a hell of a community and people ought to know about it,” 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee Member Jim Rogers said.
It may seem hard to believe, but back in the 1920’s Lake Placid was known as a summer getaway. People from the city came up to enjoy a much calmer environment and some cooler temperatures.
It wasn’t until a man named Melville Dewey, of Dewey Decimal fame, and his son, who had created the Lake Placid Club complete with winter sport venues, pressed to get the 1932 Winter Olympics, only the third in history, to the small village. And it worked.
“I mean, they were working fast for the Olympics because it was only four years between the time they got the games until they had to produce the games,” Rogers said.
And for a while, Lake Placid became the place for athletes to be, but as the decades passed, so did that desire. Lake Placid somewhat lost its identity. It needed something to get back on top.
“It went way beyond what we wanted even,” Rogers said with a smile on his face, thinking of the Miracle on Ice.
1980 was exactly what this community needed. The Miracle on Ice basically ensured people will never again forget this community and its role in winter sports.
“The Olympics, not only 1980, but 1932 is our legacy. We are a winter sports destination for competition as well as leisure travel,” Mary Jane Lawrence of ROOST said.
Now 42 years later, Lake Placid welcomes in guests all year round… for events, shopping (with that game in mind) and to be a part of history.
It’s history that the Olympic Regional Development Authority has proudly displayed for decades.
Everything from 1932 to 1980, Eric Heiden - his five gold medals in speed skating - and of course those 20 college kids who pulled off the miracle. Real items that people can experience and cannot get enough of.
“It’s definitely very interesting. It’s very humbling getting to work with this history and getting to preserve it because it is such an impactful time in history,” Julia Herman, the Collections Manager for the Lake Placid Museum, said.
For decades, these artifacts have been displayed in a small museum in the lower level of the Olympic Center. However, that museum was removed as crews began to renovate the now Herb Brooks Arena.
For now, a makeshift museum was created in its place, as a brand new, state of the art one is built - as part of New York State’s $125 million investment into re-energizing Lake Placid’s Olympic venues.
“In the old museum we had just a lot of memorabilia, more than we have now, but that just always captivated people. We’d have kids from young hockey camps come out and they would just camp out in the 1980 section,” Herman added.
The goal is to have all of the construction done in time for Lake Placid to host the World University Games in January. That includes the new museum.
Thursday night, you can see Brian’s special, in-depth look at the Miracle on Ice and how it has shaped Lake Placid — 42 years later. It will air right here on Spectrum News 1.