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Lake Placid loses bid to Denver

December 17, 2011
By HOWARD RILEY ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

What was I doing on Dec. 18, 1967, 44 years ago? Wow! Whata' you know! There I was, right on the front page of the Enterprise under the above headline "By Howard Riley" at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City covering the Lake Placid bid for the 1976 Olympic Winter Games.

The vote of the United States Olympic Committee headed by USOC President Douglas F. Roby was 26 to 17, on a third ballot, in favor of Denver. Salt Lake City, Utah and Seattle, Washington, the two other bidders for the designation had been dropped after the first two votes.

The Lake Placid delegation was led by Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

Article Photos

My words from that long ago story: "Mayor Robert Peacock and First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Neil Moylan immediately went over to congratulate the Denver delegation.

"Mayor Peacock then went over to the podium to offer his congratulations and offer any assistance to Denver. The other delegations followed with similar remarks.

"Thomas Currigan, Mayor of Denver, spoke briefly followed by Colorado Governor John A. Love who invited the Olympic Committee to meet in Denver in 1969.

"State Sen. Ronald Stafford attended the presentation. Roy Kennedy, Lake Placid Convention and Travel Director was there looking after numerous details. He said 33 persons represented New York State.

"North Elba Supervisor William Hurley and board members, Paul Dupree, James Sheffield and Jack Shea attended. Also present were Ron MacKenzie, Art Devlin, Bob McDermott, Mose (Red) LaFountain, Jr., Dr. Robert Madden, Vern Lamb, Robert VanKuren and Robert Witt, architects for the arena expansion.

"Norman Hess, chairman of the Lake Placid Winter Sports Council who was chairman and master of ceremonies of the presentation, had worked hard on the bid presentation and others in the delegation felt he had made a great personal contribution, spending so much time away from his law practice."

The irony

It was January 1973, six years after that historic day when Denver won the bid to host the '76 Olympic Games that Lake Placid Mayor Robert Peacock and yours truly drove to Montreal to catch a flight to Lausanne, Switzerland to join a Placid bid team making a pitch for the second time, to host the 1976 Olympic Winter Games because here is what had happened in Denver

"Denver, Colorado withdrew its bid to present the 1976 Olympic Winter Games on November 15, 1972. With a 300 percent rise in costs and worries about environmental impact led Colorado voter's rejection on Nov. 7, 1972, by a 3-to-2 margin, of a $5 million bond issue to finance the games with public funds."

Bill Doolittle, Enterprise publisher, in an unheard of move before that time, was sending this reporter from a small town newspaper to cover the Olympic bid in Europe.

We met up with other Lake Placid officials in Zurich, Switzerland; Ron MacKenzie, Bunny Sheffield, Norm Hess and Rev. J. Bernard Fell. Sen. Ron Stafford got there a day later.

The Lake Placid bid presentation by Rev. Fell was quoted in newspapers all over Europe. The bid for '76 went to Innsbruck, Austria who hosted the '64 Games and maintained their very up-to-date their facilities.

Lord Killian from Dublin, Ireland was Chairman of the International Olympic Committee and when the bidding was over he shook hands with each member of the Lake Placid delegation and told them what a great job they had done and before he walked away he gave the group a wink and said, "it will be nice to see you fellows in Lake Placid in 1980." Placid made a formal bid in January 1974 and were voted to host the 1980 Olympic Winter games.

It was so much fun being with these guys, especially the time I spent with James Sheffield, namesake of the Olympic Speed Skating oval in Lake Placid. This quote about Bunny is from my book

"But the Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Lake Placid, the friendly hand-shaking man who was probably most remembered by an awful lot of people in Switzerland was James (Bunny) Sheffield. The train ride from Zurich to Lausanne took about four hours and the train was crowded with young men going into the service (six months compulsory), tourists, businessmen and women and skiers. People were coming into our car from other cars to see what the commotion was all about. Bunny made sure that no one who left that train four hours later did not have either a Lake Placid brochure, a pin, a decal or a bumper sticker that read, 'Follow me to Lake Placid.'

What great memories.



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