Tahoe’s Olympic nordic trails restored for celebration | SierraSun.com

Tahoe’s Olympic nordic trails restored for celebration

Pettit Gilwee
Special to the Sun
Submitted photo.
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NORTH LAKE TAHOE – Although many are familiar with the 1960 Winter Olympics held at Squaw Valley USA, few know the 1960 Olympic Nordic events took place 15 miles away on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore, which will be one of the sites for the Olympic Heritage Celebration.

After the 1960 Winter Games, the Olympic Nordic Trails were more or less forgotten; Mother Nature took over and the facility faded into oblivion. Until a few years ago, when the vision to restore the trails was conceived.

In 1999, after uncovering a portion of the trails in his Tahoma backyard, environmental engineer, historian, author and 35-year Tahoe-Truckee resident David Antonucci spearheaded the effort to restore the Olympic trails and create a year-round public recreation facility. His efforts, along with the help of others, were successful. Today, a total of 15 kilometers (approximately 25 percent) of the 1960 Olympic Nordic Trails have survived and been restored for hiking and biking.

The 1960 Olympic Nordic Trails are rolling, single lane parallel Nordic paths located on both private and public land, and are considered to be the first cross-country ski area in the United States. The trails were designed by former U.S. Olympian Wendall “Chummy” Broomhall and Dartmouth ski team coach Allison Merrill. Here, the first-ever biathlon competition, a 20-kilometer ski and shoot racecourse looping through the terrain of Tahoma and Homewood was held. The story of the Nordic ski venue and much more about the Winter Olympics is told through Antonucci’s new book, “Snowball’s Chance – The Story of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe.”

The trails are accessible to the public from Sugar Pine Point State Park, Quail Creek Meadow and McKinney Rubicon Road.

To help reinvigorate the community’s interest in the trails and to celebrate the area’s 50-year anniversary of hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics, Antonucci teamed up with the producers of the Olympic Heritage Celebration, scheduled for Jan. 8-17, 2010, to showcase the region.

The 1960 Olympic Nordic Trails at Sugar Pine Point State Park are the scene for the Biathlon Re-enactment Jan. 9, Cross Country Expo and Demo Jan. 10, the Scholastic Nordic Race (the first sanctioned race held in this venue since the Olympic Winter Games) Jan. 15 and the Biathlon “Citizens Against the Clock” Jan. 16, along with ongoing interpretive programs.

For more details about the Olympic Heritage Celebration and a complete schedule, click to http://www.SquawValley1960Celebration.com.

For general information visit http://www.GoTahoeNorth.com.