Olympic Heritage Week gearing up, snow or no | SierraSun.com

Olympic Heritage Week gearing up, snow or no

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What: Olympic Heritage Week, Jan. 11-19,

When: Opening Ceremonies, Jan. 11,11:30 a.m., Sugar Pine Point State Park

Cost: Parking $10. Meet on campground side of park

Visit: http://www.squaw.com/OHC

TAHOE, Calif. — In 1960, the organizers of the Squaw Winter Olympic games were nervous, as the world was about to show up at their doorsteps during an unusually dry December and January.

But the weather changed in early February, bringing the much-needed snow, allowing the games to go on.

The organizers of Olympic Heritage Celebration, a week-long series of skiing and historic commemorations that honor the games 54 years ago, may not be so lucky.

But there is a plan.

Worried about the lack of snow in 1960 Walt Disney, who orchestrated the ceremonies, brought in tribal dancers to coach the snow to fall. The Olympic Heritage Celebration committee followed Disney’s lead in 2012 when the same weather pattern emerged as the long-planned festivities were about the begin.

“We have invited the Eagle Wing Dancers back to our opening ceremonies at Sugar Pine Point State Park on Jan. 11 to perform, among other ceremonial dances, a snow dance in front of the iconic Tower of Nations at the park entrance,” said Heidi Doyle, executive director of the Sierra State Parks Foundation, a program sponsor. “We encourage the community to join us as we honor our Olympic Heritage and dance for snow.”

The lack of snow has been a concern in the native community as well, said Lois Kane, Language and Cultural coordinator for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

The Eagle Wing Dance group will conclude with a round dance in which all are invited to participate.

“We could end up with one large round dance with all of the people dancing and praying for snow,” said Kane.

In addition to the tribal dancers, former winter Olympic athletes and dignitaries will be on hand to light the caldron and take a guided tour of the Olympic Trails at the state park where the Olympic Nordic events took place 64 years ago on Lake Tahoe’s west shore.

Beginning on Saturday, Jan. 11, even with little snow on the ground, the events will go on.

“We have planned for this scenario and have made modifications to make sure everyone will have a great time experiencing our local Olympic Heritage,” said Rob Weston, a park volunteer whose business, West Shore Sports, is an event partner.

“This entire week of events will be an opportunity to meet with former winter Olympians and to try out something new. We have a full state of events and invite the public to join us,” said Weston.

Olympic Heritage Week consists of a series of programs designed to highlight the North Tahoe Olympic cultural history as well as recreational events to promote the spirit of fair play and fitness.

In addition, a fundraiser is planned at Granlibakken Resort on Jan. 17, to benefit snow trail grooming at Sugar Pine Point State Park.

Squaw Valley Day will conclude the week with races, music and closing ceremonies.

The full schedule of events can be found at http://www.squaw.com/OHC or by calling the Sierra State Parks Foundation office at 530-583-9911.

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