Indoor Adirondack Fun: The 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Museum
While Whiteface Mountain revels in the new fallen snow, we take a break to get in touch with our winter spirit by visiting the 1932 &1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum.
The first "person" we see as we walk in the 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum door is a life-size cutout of one of Lake Placid's most recent Olympic heroes, Andrew Weibrecht*, son to Mirror Lake Inn Resort Spa owners, Lisa and Ed Weibrecht.
This local now stands along with other Adirondack Olympians such as two time gold medalist Jack Shea. There is a small but growing display from the Vancouver 2010 games.
This one-room museum is not only a treasure trove of winter Olympic memorabilia but also a history of the humble beginnings of winter sports.
It may be named for the 1932 & 1980 Winter Olympic Games that were held in Lake Placid but the displays here demonstrate how Lake Placid has evolved into an Olympic training facility and international resort.
The museum attendant gestures us toward a gold medal won by Lake Placid native, Charles Jewtraw at the first winter Olympics held in Chamonix, France in 1924. It is not only from the first winter Olympic games but the first gold medal ever awarded. There are plenty of other nods given to Olympians residing from the area.
My children wander off to view hockey masks that look like something out of "Silence of the Lambs" while I am mesmerized by the Norwegian Sonja Henie documentary. The skating techniques are so different now. Trained in dance, she is credited with changing the sport to include ballet moves. Now the sport is a blending of complicated twists and death defying flips. Henie's moves look so graceful and simple but put in context, it was a groundbreaking performance.
I am amazed by the technology timeline demonstrating the advancement in sporting equipment. In a display case are samples of wooden-bladed ice skates. Around the corner is a bobsled prototype, also made out of wood, with a steering column seemingly borrowed from a propane truck. People are in pictures smiling as they propel themselves down icy chutes without helmets, safety gear or quick-release bindings. My children go outside to play in more complex gear than some of these people used to win Olympic medals.
The museum is small and has a fair share of multi-media looping going on. If you missed seeing the real "Miracle" gold medal win during the 1980 Olympics, you can see it over and over and over again. The small group in front of me cheers like it is a live feed from the Herb Brook Arena and they aren't sure of the outcome.
The 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum, 2634 Main Street, is open daily from 10:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m., closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Adirondack Family Time Tip: There is an interesting guided tour, available most days at 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m.and 1:00 p.m. for $10/person. It may be a bit long for very young children. A self-guided tour is always available and free on nonevent days.
*For those not in the know, Lake Placid native Andrew Weibrecht won a bronze medal in the Men's Super-G during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games.
photo credit: © Diane Chase, www.adkfamilytime.com