Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Going for the Gold

Last month my husband and I visited Lake Placid, NY host to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games. Despite frigid temperatures while we were there, activity in this little town never stopped - ski jumping, hockey, ice skating, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing and dog sledding.

Our condo was walking distance to the Olympic Center where in 1932 20-year old figure skater Sonya Henie won a gold medal and local speed skater Jack Shea took home two golds.

It was also here in 1980 when the "miracle on ice" occurred as the US men's hockey team bested the Soviet Union to score a gold. That same year Eric Heiden won five gold medals in speed skating. Amazing!

The interesting thing is that people in Lake Placid talk about both Winter games as if they were just yesterday. During our tour of the museum we found out there are several ways an athlete can qualify for the Olympic games and fractions of a second can mean the difference between representing your country or staying home. Per the Olympic Handbook:

1) An athlete must surpass the qualifying time set by international sports associations like swimming;
2) An athlete must finish among the top finishers in a tournament that also serves as an Olympic qualifier such as archery;
3) an athlete must be ranked among the top 64 in world rankings by the time the Olympics will start such as tennis or beach volleyball;
4) an athlete must finish among the top 4 or 6 in a national Olympic qualifier as in the US or Australia;
5) an athlete can be invited by the IOC as a "wild-card entry." IOC will invite those countries who have no Olympic qualifiers to send their athletes to ensure maximum participation among IOC member countries.

Olympic athletes prepare for years tucking school work around practice schedules and competitions. They are often away from their families for extended periods. I came to sports as an adult - racquetball, snowshoeing and kayaking - so the Olympics were never a possibility. But I love to watch them, and with nearly 1000 athletes competing in Sochi this month there is plenty to see. I have trouble picking a favorite event - how about you?


  1. I am like you, Linda, it is hard to pick a favorite sport in the Olympics. I love the skiing, the skating.....I love it all. The athletes have worked so hard for so long and this is their big chance to shine. I always hate to see the Olympics end.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  2. I didn't get to see much of the Olympics, even though I love to watch them...my favorite is ice skating...the dancing kind.

  3. The Olympics are such an incredible display of athleticism, dedication, and determination. With so many exciting events, it is hard to pick a favorite. Lake Placid, NY sounds like a very interesting place to visit. Thank you for sharing this great post!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  4. Glad you all enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing your favorites