The Olympic spirit returns | SierraSun.com

The Olympic spirit returns

Katherine Morris and Keith Sheffield, Sierra Sun
Doug Slater/Sierra SunWerner Schuster checks out his route through Olympic Valley on Tuesday afternoon. Schuster will ski the torch from the fifth tee on the Resort at Squaw Creek's golf course through part of the meadow.
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When the Olympic Torch crosses into Truckee territory at about 9:58 a.m. on Sunday, the town will be well prepared and ready to party.

Thanks to months of collaboration between city officials, the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce and local law enforcement agencies, the event is expected to be a lot of fun and a huge success.

The bulk of the day’s events will take place at Donner Memorial State Park, where there will be a 15-minute celebration, and bathroom/snack break for torchbearers and caravan members, scheduled from 10:38 to 10:53 a.m. Scheduled events include the lighting of a cauldron by relay members, a commemoration of Truckee’s past Olympians and a photo shoot in front of the memorial.

“Jim Porter is going to MC the event, so it should be pretty darn cute,” said Rachelle Pellissier, president and CEO of the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce.

The estimated 75 caravan members will receive a light snack, courtesy of Florian’s Fine Foods, and a bag of miscellaneous Truckee trinkets and town information.

“We’re hoping that many of these people will come back to visit Truckee again someday,” Pellissier said.

Red, white and blue balloons, donated by John Witney at Event Masters, will also be handed out to the crowd to “add a little color to the event,” she said.

Due to limited parking at Donner Memorial, shuttles will be running to and from the park continuously from 9 a.m. to noon, from the Safeway, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and Factory Outlet center parking lots.

After the photo shoot, the caravan will proceed through downtown via Donner Pass Road. Spectators are encouraged to line up early, and the earlier the better because event sponsors Coca-Cola and Chevrolet will be handing out free goodies before the event at select locations.

“We’re calling it the precaravan caravan,” Pellissier said. “It should come by a half hour before the torch passes by these six scheduled locations.”

Those locations include: West Donner Lake boat ramp, Donner Memorial State Park, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District parking lot, the Donner (DMV) Plaza parking lot, the Tahoe Forest Hospital Administrative Building parking lot, and the Depot parking lot.

Pellissier pointed out that people don’t have to go to those specific locations to catch a glimpse of this historic event, though, because the procession will be heading all the way down Donner Pass Road.

Another local Torch event will be the premiere of the film series “On the Road to Utah!” by world-renowned sports filmmaker and seven-time Emmy winner Bud Greenspan.

This series provides a moving portrait of the Olympic Games and a compelling view of the long and difficult, but fulfilling road to Olympic glory. Included in the show are short segments including: Opening Ceremonies, Lillehammer; Men’s Downhill, Nagano; Billy Fiske; Discover Utah; Bonnie Blair; and Closing Ceremonies, Nagano.

Show times are at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m., Jan. 18-22 at the Donner Memorial State Park Theater. Admission will be $1 except for Jan. 20, when it will be free.

“It’s well worth the buck. It really gets you in the spirit of the Olympics,” Pellissier said.

In addition to event coordinators, local law enforcement agencies have been working behind the scenes to make sure the event goes off without any safety or traffic hitches.

“We’re going to have officers and volunteers at every major traffic point and intersection around the procession,” said Scott Berry, commander of the Truckee Police Department.

He said that residents can expect the downtown area to be shut off to all traffic between 11:15 and 11:35 a.m.

Berry said local police have been working closely with the California Highway Patrol, which is overseeing the event, for roughly the last three months.

“There will be officers traveling with the torch the whole way, and one of our vehicles will be part of the caravan through town,” he said.

Berry said he’s even enlisted the help of the Public Works Department.

“In the event of any snowfall, we’ve arranged for a snowplow to come out and lead the way. The torch will come through this town, no matter what.”

Train schedules have also been adjusted so that they will not interfere with the event.

Berry said he’s hoping for a large turnout on Sunday. “We’re really excited about the torch coming through town. This is going to be an incredible event and I just want to encourage everyone to come out and see it.”

For more information, contact the Chamber of Commerce office at (530) 587-2757.

Olympic Valley

The Olympic Torch’s route through Olympic Valley on Sunday should prove an interesting one.

“The snow is thin on the golf course,” said Eric Brandt, Squaw Valley USA’s marketing director, to a group of Olympic Torchbearers and Squaw staff Tuesday.

Brandt was speaking to such torchbearers as Werner Schuster, Charlie Kellermyer, Pete Klaussen and Osvaldo Ancinas during a dry run before the Torch’s arrival at Squaw Valley at about 11:50 a.m.

“This is happening on the busiest day of the season,” Brandt continued.

The Olympic Torch convoy arrives in Olympic Valley at about 11:43 a.m.

It will be skied cross country on the Squaw Creek Golf Course by Schuster, Kellermyer and Klaussen where it will passed at the ski resort parking lot.

There it begins a series of runs by Tammie Thompson and Andrea Mead Lawrence. Sandy Poulsen, known as the First Lady of Squaw Valley, will accompany the torch on the Cable Car en route to High Camp where it will be escorted around the Ice Skating Pavilion by Mark Sullivan, before it is skied back downhill by Tamara McKinney, Mark Wellman and Osvaldo Ancinas to the stage near the Funitel.

At the Funitel stage, Alex Cushing, founder and chairman of the Squaw Valley Ski Corporation, will light the cauldron igniting a half-hour ceremony.

Dr. Charles Goldman will take the torch on its first run out of Olympic Valley on its way to Tahoe City.

Awaiting the Torch’s arrival in Tahoe City will be Roger Kahn, owner of Porter’s Ski and Sport, who will hand the torch off to Debbie Wohler, a longtime member of the First Baptist Church of Tahoe City.

As the Torch makes its way through Tahoe Vista and Kings Beach, it will be escorted out of Kings Beach by Jan Short, a noted North Shore musician.

Much planning has gone into the Torch Relay through the Tahoe region as well as the three days of events leading up to the Torch’s arrival.

“This is the return of the torch,” said Katja Dahl, spokeswoman for Squaw Valley USA. “(The Olympic Committee) contacted us last spring. It’s a very elaborate process.”

With the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association as the Olympic Heritage Days’ primary sponsor, officials have planned an Olympic Trails rededication today at 10:30 a.m. at Sugar Pine Point State Park where the trails and Olympic athletes and official will be recognized (see story page C1).

“It’s been a conscious decision of the marketing community to focus on the area’s Olympic heritage,” said Phil McKinney, executive director of the resort association. “We’ve been involved since day one.”

With the torch passing through Tahoe for the first time in 42 years, it’s a way for North Shore residents to rekindle the connection to the Olympics, said Dahl.

“The Olympic spirit is still very strong here,” she added. “People want to be a part of the Olympics.”

Truckee torch schedule*

9:33 a.m. Enters Placer County limits.

9:44 a.m. Enters Nevada County limits.

9:58 a.m. Right exit at Donner Lake exit. Ends one lane convoy and begins city convoy. Crosses into Truckee. Right at end of ramp onto Donner Lake Road.

10:01 a.m. 1st torchbearer prior to left on Donner Pass Road. End city convoy. 1st torchbearer begins running.

10:30 a.m. Pass Donner Lake launching facility on right.

10:21 a.m. Pass Loch Leaven Lodge on right.

10:27 a.m. Pass Olympic Drive on left.

10:35 a.m. Torchbearer Split. Right into Donner Memorial State park.

10:37 a.m. Bear left for Emigrant Museum parking lot.

10:38 a.m. Continue to Donner Memorial statue. Begin morning break D 15 minutes.

10:53 a.m. End morning break.

10:58 a.m. Pass Cold Stream Road on right.

11:01 a.m. Pass entrance to Tahoe Truckee Factory Store parking lot on right.

11:04 a.m. Cross Northwoods Boulevard.

11:07 a.m. Pass trolley stop on right, opposite Public Utility Building on left.

11:11 a.m. Pass Route 89 South on right.

11:16 a.m. Pass Nevada County Sheriff’s Office driveway on right.

11:18 a.m. Pass wood fence with rock wall at Nursery on left.

11:19 a.m. Pass I-80W Sacramento entrance on right.

11:20 a.m. Circle roundabout toard downtown.

11:25 a.m. Pass pedestrian crosswalk by eagle statue on right.

11:26 a.m. Right on Bridge Street. Cross railroad tracks.

11:28 a.m. Pass sign for “Speed Limit 25 MPH”

11:29 a.m. Pass WP106 train car in dirt parking lot. End running and begin city convoy.

11:31 a.m. Left on Rt. 89 South. End city convoy and begin one lane convoy.

11:43 a.m. Enter Placer County. Enter Olympic Valley. Right on Squaw Valley Road. End one lane convoy. Begin running.

*All times are estimates provided by the Olympic committee. Actual times may vary.