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Big celebration of 1960 Winter Olympics a year away

Nick Cruit
Sierra Sun
This unmarked photo hanging in the Olympic Museum at High Camp at Squaw Valley shows the speed skating oval with Blyth Arena in the background, at the 1960 Winter Games.
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LAKE TAHOE BASIN “-One year from today, a 10-day celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games and a season-long recognition of the region’s Olympic heritage will begin, something planners hope to be a major draw for tourists to the region.

The Squaw Valley Olympic Museum Foundation, along with the Olympic Heritage Committee, are developing plans for the celebration and launching fundraising efforts focused on the official Squaw Valley Olympic Museum, scheduled for completion in 2012.

Both organizations ” the Museum Foundation and Heritage Committee ” are negotiating with the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee to secure licensing agreements for the museum and the celebration, said George Koster, President of the Squaw Valley Museum Foundation Board.

The Olympic Museum and celebration hope to use the Olympic heritage in North Lake Tahoe to help drive tourism back to the area, Koster added.

Assuming there are roughly 50,000 visitors throughout the 10-day celebration, a report compiled by Truckee’s Streamline Consulting Group believes the celebration could potentially generate $40 million.

The report also estimates the Olympic Museum could generate approximately $73 million a year upon completion.

These numbers do not reflect a formula cast in stone, though, said Linda Williams, project manager for the Olympic Museum and director of production for the Olympic Heritage Celebration.

“This is a solid study we had done to see what the economic impact would be based on what other Olympic venues have done, for instance Lake Placid and Salt Lake City,” Williams said.

As for the location of the new museum, Williams said they are considering sites throughout the North Tahoe region, paying particular attention to Olympic Valley and the West Shore area where the Nordic skiing venue was built for the games.

“There certainly is an argument to be made for having the site near the venue where the games were held,” said Williams. “But nothing has been decided and we are open to ideas.”

Those involved with planning the celebration are currently looking to the community for enthusiasm and support.

“We feel we need to start getting the community involved in this well in advance to make sure it is fully focused and ready,” said Williams.

The celebration will include 10 days of reenacted events, sporting competitions on snow and ice, and recognition of past and present Olympians in the community. Its time frame was chosen to capitalize on the Olympics return to the North American west coast, according to Koster and Williams.

“We chose the time because it is a lull between Christmas and the other major ski holidays like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Presidents Day,” Williams said. “We also hope to capitalize on the Olympics in Vancouver and ride the tide surrounding the 60th Winter Games.”

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, is scheduled to be held Feb. 12 to 28, 2010.

“We feel that this is going to be a huge generator of revenue,” said Williams, “and our community and local businesses can ride on the wave of tourism and the exposure this will bring by thinking of creative ways they can tie into our local heritage celebration.”

Learn how to be a part of the Olympic Museum and the Olympic Heritage Celebration at http://www.squawvalleymuseum.com and http://www.1960winterolympics.com.

The Squaw Valley Business Association and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association will host an Olympic Heritage Celebration awareness kickoff Feb. 6-9, 2009.

– Friday night retro-themed dance party at the Resort at Squaw Creek

– Saturday lunch with the Olympians and race on the mountain

– Saturday evening gala event at PlumpJack with master of ceremonies Johnny Moseley

– Early Sunday morning breakfast on the mountain followed by first tracks


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