Ski Lines: Olympic Museum reopens in Lake Placid

A panel recaps the events at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid at the reopening of the Olympic Museum.

A panel recaps the events at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid at the reopening of the Olympic Museum.

Look out the window. For some of us, the motivation to jump on the boards comes only when we see snow on the ground.

It has taken a while for the flakes to get here this winter, but now we have all the visual encouragement we need. And when we do hit the slopes, the past month of snow making and snow farming at ski areas throughout our region has the trails ready and waiting. 

When travels take you to Lake Placid this winter, save some time to visit the newly renovated Lake Placid Olympic Museum, which reopened last week after planning efforts that began three years ago. Although located in the same spot it has been since 1994, the museum on the lower level of the Olympic Center in the Village has been re-imagined and thoroughly modernized and reconstructed.

Yes, you will still see on demand video of the dramatic and inspiring United States hockey victory over the Soviet Union which, although it happened more than 40 years ago, still is stirring, no matter how many times you watch. The game called by then-ABC announcer Al Michaels is now in its own alcove in the museum. But expect the number of people watching to spill over into the adjacent hallway as the final seconds of the “Do You Believe in Miracles?” contest tick down.

The hockey triumph, and the remarkable five record-setting gold medals in the five speed skating events by Eric Heiden that is featured in adjacent space, are memories handed down from the Lake Placid Olympics Games that, although more than 40 years old now, live on every four years when Winter Games take place. Even by Olympic standards, these are enduring highlights. 


The walking tour begins by highlighting the presence of winter sports activities in the Lake Placid area dating back to the 19th century. Then there is plenty from the original Lake Placid Olympics in 1932, that brought the Games out from being just a European festival and established the Adirondack village as an international center for winter sports. 

The story of the 1980 Games is told starting from its designation as the host in 1974 up through the competitions six years later. As expected, not only are there descriptions of the events, but there are plenty of the artifacts too. There are uniforms worn by the athletes; and credentials — one panel featuring the full set of passes from members of the American hockey team. U.S. goalie Jim Craig’s pads and stick are there, alongside the U.S. net from the Russian game. Most eye-catching is a panel from the 1980 ice rink scoreboard that hung during the hockey competition It was rescued when the scoreboard was replaced in 2016. It now hangs near the museum entrance. 

The final score is still USA 4, URS 3.

There are other features that highlight the new facility. 

There is the wall of Olympic posters, an impressive display of artwork from winter games throughout the years. There are the uniforms from the Lake Plaid games, especially the blue with yellow trim outfit worn by the volunteers that to this day can still be found in many closets in our area. Then there are the Olympic pins which were actively traded on the streets of the village each day during the games. There are 784 pins on the wall display. 

Not all of the museum features are static. There is a bobsled rigged to give a simulated ride to visitors, a visual re-creation of a ski jump and a sensory cross country experience. 

There is an update area bringing visitors into the modern games. One panel features a larger-than-life photo of Lake Placid native and resident Andrew Weibrecht in the middle of his medal-winning run in the Super G ski event at the Vancouver Games in 2012. 


The original Olympic and Winter Sports Museum was created at the end of 1980 as a private not-for-profit operation located just off Main Street at the former Austria House. An agreement with the Olympic Regional Development Authority in 1994 shifted the operation to the Olympic Center next to the skating oval on Main Street, where it was renamed The 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum. In 1998, the Museum was granted tax-exempt status, and two years later, a New York State charter. In 2011, it was renamed the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

The physical renovation to what is in place now began in March 2021. The design and exhibition consultant was the Buffalo-based Hadley Exhibits, a more than 100-year-old A-list firm whose credits include the 9/11 Memorial and the Ellis Island Museum in New York City, The JFK Library in Boston, The Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. ORDA places the cost of the project at $1.5 million.

The museum is now open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $12 for those 7-19 or in the military. 


For the past decade, the North Creek Business Alliance offered a free shuttle bus between stops in the village and the base at the Gore Mountain Ski Center on weekends and holidays. No more. In a surprise move last spring, the Alliance board voted to end the service, and the buses were sold to the Garnet Hill Lodge in North River. There are Gore Mountain-operated buses that run between the ski area’s main base area and the North Creek Ski Bowl, but there is no service in town planned for this winter, including during the World University Games. 


Fashion Alert! If you are one of those who never throws away old clothing, take a look in your closet. If you have one of those vintage CB Sport jackets from the 1970s, you just might find yourself ahead of the style curve this winter. CB, the Vermont-based ski brand that was popular 40 years ago, is back. Now with modern materials, the same bright-color, broad-stripe look that was popular once upon a time, has been resurrected by Vertical Brands, a textile development firm, and is now out there on the market again. Retro makes a comeback on the slopes this winter. 


Klaus Obermeyer began skiing at age 3 in his native Germany. How did the legendary winter clothing pioneer celebrate his 103rd birthday two weeks ago? The Aspen resident did what he does regularly in winter. He went skiing. Happy birthday Klaus.

Phil Johnson can be reached at pcj1407@gmail.

Categories: -Sports-, Sports

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