LAKE PLACID - The U.S. Olympic Team won a record 37 medals during this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver, with a total of 216 athletes competing. In a celebration of these accomplishments, Lake Placid's 1932 and 1980 Olympic Museum has a brand-new exhibit featuring the largest collection of items from the 2010 Winter Games outside of British Columbia.
Several pieces were donated by athletes from this area.
"We're really proud of this collection," said museum Curator Liz DeFazio. "It reflects what a special year it was for our region's Olympians."
A 2010 Olympic ski suit worn by Lake Placid’s own bronze-medal-winning downhill ski racer Andrew Weibrecht is now on display, along with a cardboard cutout of Weibrecht, at the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Museum at Lake Placid’s Olympic Center.
(Photo for the Enterprise — Eric Voorhis)
Most new additions in the museum are located to the left of the service desk as visitors walk through the entrance. Three flag-bearer outfits from the opening ceremonies hang on the wall, one belonging to Tuffy Latour of Saranac Lake, the Canadian men's bobsled coach. The other two were worn by five-time doubles luger Mark Grimmette of Lake Placid, who carried the U.S. flag in the 2010 Olympic opening ceremonies, and nordic combined gold medal winner Bill Demong of Vermontville, who carried the U.S. flag in the closing ceremonies.
A wooden mannequin also stands in the room displaying the ski suit worn by Lake Placid native Andrew Weibrecht, who took home a bronze medal in alpine men's super G.
DeFazio said part of the reason these Olympics were so special was because of Lake Placid's large presence in Vancouver.
"I was actually able to go this year," DeFazio said. "I had the chance to meet with current and former athletes and make connections that make something like this possible."
While in Vancouver, DeFazio visited several museums in Richmond, B.C. and said she connected with members of the International Society of Olympic Historians.
"It was a very positive experience," DeFazio said.
After the U.S. Winter Olympians visit President Obama at the end of April, DeFazio expects Weibrecht to bring his bronze medal into the museum for a long-term loan.
But it's not all about the U.S. this time around.
Along with Latour's Canada outfit from the opening ceremony, the museum also holds a display dedicated to Four Host First Nations, an organization formed because this year's Winter Olympics were held within the traditional and shared territories of the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Indian nations, the official hosts of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
"This is really the first time we have been able to feature the host country in our exhibits," DeFazio said. "Things just fell into place, and it's a good step for us."
Also on display is a luge racing suit worn by Tony Benshoof, which was signed by the entire U.S. 2010 Olympic Luge Team. The suit was donated by Benshoof for an auction to raise funds for the Georgian family of Nodar Kumaritashvilli, a luger who died while taking a practice run just a few hours prior to the games' commencement.
Ramond Wierzbicki of Hohokus, N.J. won the suit at auction and has agreed to loan it to the museum in memory of Kumaritashvilli.
The museum also has an official torch from the 2010 winter games, hung next to torches from the 2006 and 2002 Olympics, as well as official posters and mascots.
"We build on the collection every year and try to represent every Olympics that comes along," DeFazio said.
Contact Eric Voorhis at (518) 523-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.