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Lake Placid — winter sports capital

December 15, 2012
By HOWARD RILEY ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

I spend a lot of time at the Olympic Center telling visitors about Lake Placid Olympic history; the village is one of only three places in the world that has hosted two Olympic Winter Games: 1932 and 1980. The other two sites are St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1928 and 1948; and Innsbruck, Austria, in 1964 and 1976.

Everyone, just to remind one's self occasionally how special Lake Placid is, should attend some special event in that village. It doesn't matter if it's a ski jump, a bobsled race or a hockey game.

Saturday night, Dec. 8, was that special reminder for me when thousands of happy, cheering spectators, brought the atmosphere in the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena to a fever pitch as Clarkson beat St. Lawrence 3 to 1. The red seats were nearly full, the Clarkson band was playing, the crowd was performing the wave, and the food service company, Centerplate, was serving beer and hot dogs like Prohibition was just around the corner.

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And fans were thrilled with the added treat of the two Zambonis (that macho machine, with studded tires, was developed by Frank J. Zamboni in 1949 in California) coming out to clean the ice between periods. The drivers, Jay Harvey and Steve Hague, waltzed those machines around the ice like a synchronized skating team, ending up in union as they exited the ice. Maybe we could develop a race competition between Zamboni drivers and make it an annual event on the speedskating oval.


Clarkson, Harvard hockey

Now you may have missed this bit of sports news, but I will quote the story from the Syracuse Post-Standard:

"LAKE PLACID, Dec. 26 - Harvard and Clarkson hockey teams have been booked for a three-game holiday series at the Olympic Arena on the evenings of Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 and 2.

"Some of the fastest hockey ever seen on the big arena ice sheet was displayed by these same clubs just a year ago. Clarkson took the first game 3 to 1; Harvard, the second, 5 to 1, while the set-to ended in a 4-4 tie.

"Coach Jack Roos of the Clarkson club again finds himself with plenty of high-class ice material with Len Dover in the nets, Donald Okilman, Pilon and Tyo in back ice, and a string of fast-skating wingers to choose from, including Joe Donihee, Alf Gratton, Campbell, Allan and Donaldson.

"Exeter meets Northwood in a preliminary game on the evening of Dec. 31."

The date on the Post Standard was Sunday, Dec. 27, 1936.

Now here is the rest of the story. According to Wikipedia, this about Clarkson: "The school was founded in 1896, funded by the sisters of Thomas S. Clarkson, killed while working in his sandstone quarry not far from Potsdam."


Lake Placid News front-page stories, 1968

"The North American Festival in Lake Placid will be in its sixth week when it crowns its King and Queen Saturday in the Olympic Arena.

"WCBS television Director of Sports Frank Gifford will be crowned King of the North American Festival sharing the spotlight with the Queen of the World's stewardesses, Patty Paulsen, who won her title in an international contest in Uruguay. James C. Sheffield is chairman and organizer of the Festival.

"Crowning the royalty will be the Mayor of Lachine, Quebec, Jean Guy Chartier, who will bring along two bands to liven up the Olympic Arena for the festivities.

"Olympic Arena impresario Robert Allen is particularly proud of the fact that the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club, Ann Arbor, Michigan, will be sending their 'Hockette Chorus' of 36 beautifully costumed girls to skate in the ice show that will follow the Coronation."

(The '32 Arena had only 2,000 seats, so it was usually standing room only for any event there.)


Bomber hockey

"On Friday evening at Lake Placid's Olympic Arena the Bears of Canton are going to play the Blue Bombers of Lake Placid for all the marbles as one team will end up wearing the championship crown of the Northern New York High School Hockey League.

"The Game of the Year was decided by the weekend league activity as Potsdam defeated Canton by a score of 1 to 0 and the Blue Bombers again mauled Massena 6 to 2. This left Canton and Lake Placid with identical 6 win and 2 loss records."


Tobaggan race

"The Second Annual Lions Club toboggan races are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 29 at the Lake Placid Municipal Toboggan Run.

"Invitations have been issued to the mayors of Plattsburgh, Malone, Massena, Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake and Lake Placid's Mayor Robert J. Peacock to compete in the special mayor's competition.

"Mayor Howard J. Riley of Saranac Lake will be on hand to defend his championship copped in the first annual last year. James E. Lamy, Olympic Bobsled coach and William McLaughlin, Enterprise reporter and columnist will again be the sliding teammates of the trophy defender."



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