XC Ski team commemorate 1960 Olympics
It’s been 50 years since Olympians came to the Tahoe Basin in search for international acclaim and the elusive Olympic gold.
Last Friday, Tahoe middle school and high school Nordic teams commemorated the VIII Olympic Winters Games in 1960 by holding a race at Sugar Pine Point State Park, the same venue and trails used by the Olympic Nordic teams.
The event, titled the West Shore Legacy Race, is the first sanctioned cross-country competition to be held at the site since the competition in 1960.
The California Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation sanctioned the race to be part of North Tahoe’s 10-day Olympic Heritage Celebration. Athletes and organizers from the 1960 games were in attendance to celebrate and cheer the 200-plus teen athletes who came to compete.
and#8220;We wanted to highlight the fact the Olympics were here at Sugar Pine Point State Park, most people think that the Olympics were only at Squaw Valley,and#8221; said Rob Westin, Olympic Heritage Celebration Committee Treasurer.
Westin said the original Olympic Nordic races were going to be held at Squaw but when organizers found Squaw Valley under tight space and scheduling constraints, the races moved to the West Shore.
Martin Hollay, who had been on the original 1960 Olympic grooming committee at the time said he remembered the course well, describing the commemorative event to be a deeply emotional experience.
and#8220;It fills my heart to see the high school kids here,and#8221; Hollay said. and#8220;Hopefully some of them are going to grow up and do something like we did, competing in the Olympics or working to organize them.and#8221;
Surveying the park’s finely groomed course, Hollay said there were marked differences from the 1960’s when the concept of grooming consisted of skiers making their own tracks.
and#8220;It’s just amazing how things have changed now, the skis, the clothing, it’s all different now, and even the course is a little better now because they have the right machines to groom it.and#8221;
For Mack Miller, a crosscountry Olympian at the 1960 games, the student athletes were the biggest highlight.
and#8220;We appreciate people’s interest in old guys who love skiing and it was especially impressive to see this many young folks skiing in a race.and#8221;
Miller said as he’s looked upon his sport and its progression, technology has only been a small but significant part in its development. Rather, he said the human element of the sport such as greater outreach programs and unique youth organizations like the CNISSF have been, and will be, the future of the sport.
and#8220;We respect what people are doing to develop crosscountry in this area and I think that is one of the most impressive things now,and#8221; he said.
Bill Clarke, Director of the Auburn Ski Club and the event’s organizer, credited historian and local West Shore resident Dave Antonucci as the biggest behind-the-scenes guy in making the event possible. For the past 10 years Clarke said Antonucci has been working with the State Parks, spearheading a restoration effort to reclaim or rediscover lost Olympic trails.
and#8220;When they tore down these trails in the 1960’s the idea was that it was all temporary, so the idea was that everything was temporary, and everything eventually came out,and#8221; he said.
Keeping his eyes on the 2011, Westin said the OHCC, will investigate holding the race again next year and perhaps organize an annual weekend-long Olympic Heritage Celebration.