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Olympic torch gets a test run

February 5, 2010
By CHRIS KNIGHT, Enterprise Senior Staff Writer

LAKE PLACID - The Rev. J. Bernard Fell Olympic Torch at the North Elba Show Grounds was relit for about 30 minutes Friday in a test run for a ceremony that will be part of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games.

The test lighting was coordinated by Dennis Ryan, chairman of the Olympic Torch Restoration Committee.

Ryan met with reporters beforehand to discuss the torch-lighting ceremony being planned as part of the 30th anniversary celebration, along with efforts to refurbish the torch and build an observation deck at the show grounds.

Article Photos

The Rev. J. Bernard Fell Olympic Torch at the North Elba Show Grounds was relit Friday in a test run for a ceremony that’s being planned as part of the 30th anniversary of the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)


The ceremony

The relighting of the torch is scheduled to take place at 5:50 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, the same day the cauldron was lit in 1980 at the opening ceremonies of the XIII Olympic Winter Games. The event comes the day after the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Fact Box

Lake Placid will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games with a series of activities and events from Feb. 12-28, the duration of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada:


Competitive sports events happening during the 30th anniversary:

-Biathlon North American Cup, Feb. 11-13

-Empire State Games, Feb. 19-21


Winter Challenge, Feb 12-28

At the Olympic facilities, visitors can challenge one another in a variety of winter sports for the best result and keep track via the Winter Challenge score card.


Lake Placid torch run, Feb. 13

At 5:15 p.m., area children will line up and pass the torch down until it reached the "Yellow Coats" who will carry the flame to the Olympic torch at the North Elba Show Grounds in time for the 5:50 p.m. torch relighting ceremony.


Ceremonial relighting of the Rev. J. Bernard Fell Olympic Torch, Feb. 13

Ceremonial relighting of the 1980 torch at the North Elba Show Grounds with speaker Dennis Ryan at 5:50 p.m.


Stanley Cup in Lake Placid, Feb. 13 and 14

The Stanley Cup is here for a special viewing and can be visited at the 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Movies in the 1980 Rink at the Olympic Center, Feb. 14

The 2010 film "Small Town, Big Dreams: Lake Placid's Olympic Story" will be featured along with Disney's "Miracle" in the same arena where the underdog U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviet powerhouse en route to winning the historic 1980 Olympic gold medal. Cost is $8 for adults and $5 for children, with proceeds going to the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum.


Free movies

The 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum is hosting free movies in the Hall of Fame Room in the Olympic Center:

-Feb. 14, 11 a.m. - Never released USA vs. USSR, Olympinks (cartoon), and never released gold medal USA vs. Finland

-Feb. 15, 4 p.m. - "Cool Runnings"

-Feb. 15, 11 a.m. - HBO documentary "Do you Believe in Miracles?"

-Feb. 16, 11 a.m. - "Downhill Racer"

-Feb. 16, 11 a.m. - Never-released USA vs. USSR, Olympinks (cartoon) and never-released gold medal USA vs. Finland.

-Feb. 17, 11 a.m. - "Cutting Edge"

-Feb. 17, 4 p.m. - 1981 Original "Miracle on Ice"

-Feb. 18, 4 p.m. - "Lake Placid Serenade"

-Feb. 18, 11 a.m. - HBO Documentary: "Do You Believe in Miracles?"


25th Gold Medal Games, Family Edition, Feb. 15-18 and Feb. 22

Families can be part of the inaugural three-day Gold Medal Games, Family Edition that kicks off with a Torch Run, Opening Ceremonies and Cauldron Lighting, competing with other families in skiing/snowboarding, bobsled, biathlon, hockey, curling and speed skating.

"It's an opportunity to honor our past and cheer on our future," Ryan said. "The timing couldn't be better for this right now, as we have so many talented athletes from the Adirondack region headed out to Vancouver."

The relighting ceremony at the show grounds will follow Olympic Oval Youth Day, which runs from 3 p.m. until about 5:15 p.m. at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval on Main Street. State Olympic Regional Development Authority spokesman Jon Lundin said Youth Day will feature a series of family-friendly winter sports activities including hockey, figure skating, curling, nordic skiing and biathlon, as well as entertainment.

Children who participate in the activities will be given a Lake Placid style bib and will begin the Olympic torch relay from the oval to the show grounds, Lundin said.

Ryan said three runners who took part in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games Torch Relay will be in Lake Placid to take part in the torch relighting festivities: Suzanne Mink of Virginia, Bev Johnson of Maine and Dot Helling of Vermont. Mink will take the torch from the children at the oval and carry it to the show grounds.

Ryan said Judy Shea is organizing volunteers from the 1980 games, wearing their blue jackets, to form a line as the torch arrives at the show grounds. They'll be joined by members of the Lake Placid Lady Blue Bombers 12-and-under hockey team.

Footage of the 1980 opening ceremonies will be shown on a big-screen television during the relighting ceremony, including the speech delivered by the Rev. Fell, who was president of the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee.

While the torch was hand-lit at the opening ceremonies by Dr. Charles Morgan Kerr, this time it will be lit by remote control using an igniter.

Ryan noted that the ceremony will begin promptly at 5:50 p.m., 10 minutes earlier than what organizers had originally planned, to accommodate WPTZ-TV in Plattsburgh, which plans to broadcast the ceremony live.

The torch will remain lit throughout the weekend until it is extinguished on Monday, Feb. 15, Presidents Day. The committee is planning to relight the torch once more and have it run from Feb. 19-21 for the Empire State Winter Games.

Ryan said the committee has received financial support for the ceremony from the Barile family, the town of North Elba and Hurley Brothers Inc. Additional tax-deductible donations are welcome to cover the costs of the ceremony and the cost of the propane to keep the torch running, Ryan said.

Ryan also thanked the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department, the Lake Placid Municipal Electric Department, North Elba Code Enforcement Officer Jim Morganson, Derek Doty, Joe Leonard and others who have helped get the torch ready for the 30th anniversary festivities.

"This has been a true community effort," he said.


Torch restoration

The effort to restore the Olympic torch dates to 1989 when a group of volunteers suggested it be relit to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1980 games.

Since that time, Ryan said the committee has been working to preserve the torch and make it an attraction for residents and visitors.

He said plans are moving forward to build the Godfrey Dewey Observation Deck along the access road to the show grounds, which will provide a view of both the torch and Whiteface Mountain in the background.

Funded by a $25,000 grant from the Henry Uihlein Foundation, the observation deck is expected to be built this summer, Ryan said.

Future plans for restoring the torch include building a white stone facade at its base and refurbishing the structure's steel beams. Ryan said students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have also designed an illumination system for the Olympic torch at no charge.

Donations for the torch restoration effort can be sent to LP/EC Quality Destination, 49 Parkside Drive, Lake Placid, NY 12946. More information about the project is available online at


Contact Chris Knight at (518) 891-2600 ext. 24 or



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