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Squaw Valley 1960 retrospective


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OK, Olympic trivia question:

1. When did the first artificially refrigerated ice rink make its first Olympic appearance?

2. I am in the process of refining and preparing the 2012 edition of THE BOOK (below). I would like to consult with the Olympic experts here. Vancouver 2010 has liked to tout and claim that it conducted the first INDOOR Opening and CLosing ceremmonies. However, I find that NOT to be true. Squaw Valley sheltered its spectators, VIPs, athletes and speeches of both Opening and CLosing Ceremonies in Blyth Arena, a roofed structure capable of holding 20,000 people.

BlythArenashadows.jpg

http://www.stadiumpostcards.com/servlet/the-5502/Blyth-Arena/Detail

Blyth was just a huge structure, fully roofed, but walled only on 3 sides...and the 4th wall was open to where the cauldron, the Tower of Nations and one ice rink could be seen. So the lighting of the cauldron, the raising of the flags and fireworks were conducted in the open but the paying crowd was techically under a roof. So would you consider the Ceremonies INDOOR or OUTDOOR events? Your input would be appreciated.

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1. Don't know -- maybe Garmisch 1936, to show off German technology in Nazi Germany?

2. Was Blyth Arena's fourth wall really open? It looks as if there was some kind of transparent curtain replacing that wall. If that was the case, it would be difficult to me to say that those weren't indoor ceremonies. But on the other hand, "really indoors" means to me that it's in a fully enclosed building, with solid, non-transparent walls all around. That would make Vancouver's opening ceremony still the first indoor one in Olympic history.

And in terms of closing ceremonies (since you said that Vancouver is deemed to be the first Olympic host with indoor opening and closing ceremonies): Be careful not to commit that mistake also in your new edition. As you know, Vancouver of course hadn't the first indoor closing ceremony at Olympic Games. Innsbruck 1964 and 1976, Grenoble 1968, Sapporo 1972, Lake Placid 1980 and Sarajevo 1984 were before that with indoor CCs.

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1 - I believe it was at the 1908 London Olympics...yes, figure skating and (ice) hockey (1920) appeared at the Summer Olympics before appearing at the Winter Olympics.

2 - Blyth Arena was a very simple structure (although it certainly had a lot of rustic charm) but it was essentially a giant car port with an ice floor. BC Place, however, was an air locked stadium. So I'd say the 1960 Winter Games were covered but partially exposed, and the 2010 Winter Games were fully indoors in a controlled environment.

And oddly enough...both suffered a roof collapse at one point in their lives and neither of them have a roof at this very moment. :)

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1, Correct, Kenedian. It was the figure skating events at the 1908 Summer Games; at the Prince's Skating Palace which no longer exists. (It was rather small and I could only find one foto (interior) but it is Getty Images-owned.)

2. Thanks, Paul, for the fotos. I think the foto below clearly shows that the 4th wall was missing. (At least that's how I perceive it PLUS I think that's what was said in the OR.)

card00291_fr.jpg

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Fab, yeah--perhaps I misphrased it. So I think this is how I would do it:

Squaw Valley 1960 - first Olympic (indoor/roofed) Opening & Closing ceremonies

Vancouver 2010 - first fully-indoor Winter Olympic Opening ceremony (altho of course there was the cauldron just for show while the permanent one is really outside.) ;)

Would that sound right??

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Fab, yeah--perhaps I misphrased it. So I think this is how I would do it:

Squaw Valley 1960 - first Olympic (indoor/roofed) Opening & Closing ceremonies

Vancouver 2010 - first fully-indoor Winter Olympic Opening ceremony (altho of course there was the cauldron just for show while the permanent one is really outside.) ;)

Would that sound right??

Yes, thumbs up. ;)

And actually, the outdoor cauldron (and its lighting) was not a real part of the opening ceremony in Vancouver, but only an addendum. The announcers at BC Place even announced the conclusion of the ceremony before they invited the spectators to stay in the stadium and watch the lighting of the outdoor cauldron on the screens. That was also the problem about the lighting of the cauldron -- it was anti-climatic in a double sense: The indoor cauldron lighting didn't have the right "timing" due to the malfunction and the lighting of the outdoor cauldron was totally disconnected from the flow of the actual opening ceremony. The lighting of the outdoor cauldron isn't even included in the official ceremonial video put online by VANOC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxZpUueDAvc

So I would consider Vancouver's opening ceremony as a full indoor ceremony, and not really take the lighting of the outdoor cauldron into consideration as part of the opening ceremony (just like the lighting of the cauldron in Whistler was no part of the opening ceremony).

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And oddly enough...both suffered a roof collapse at one point in their lives and neither of them have a roof at this very moment. :)

Blyth no longer stands today. It is the parking lot you say it is. Indeed after the roof collapsed (I think like 1968; but don't quote me on that date) because of snow, they just tore the whole thing down and never rebuilt it. So in a way, Blyth might've also been the first temporary Olympic arena?? ;)

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Blyth no longer stands today. It is the parking lot you say it is. Indeed after the roof collapsed (I think like 1968; but don't quote me on that date) because of snow, they just tore the whole thing down and never rebuilt it. So in a way, Blyth might've also been the first temporary Olympic arena?? ;)

The roof collapsed in 1983, and the arena was torn down the same year.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blyth_Arena

And the story of the building's end is also a quite tragic one, since it reveals that the open fourth wall (which created a lot of heat waste for the roof heating) was decisive for the collapse of the roof. And there were also the greedy ones who probably always hoped for the roof's collapse because they wanted new parking lots -- and finally, they got what they wanted:

From 1963 to 1983, the Squaw Valley ski area operator appealed regularly to the state of California to have the arena torn down to provide still more parking.

In 1982 the U.S. Department of Agriculture had a big push for energy conservation. One part of that program was funding to improve insulation on many buildings. The U.S. Forest Service received some of that money to insulate the roof of the arena and the next year the roof collapsed. What was not appreciated at the time was that the roof was not built to hold much snow, but had survived for 23 years without a problem. The plan had always been that heat generated from the ice chilling equipment in the arena traveled to the ceiling, warmed the uninsulated roof, and melted the snow. With the energy conservation measures in place, the snow did not melt due to waste heat and the building collapsed under the weight.

(from the mentioned Wikipedia article)

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I changed the headline of the thread because it is now morphing more towards a review of the SQUAW VALLEY 1960 Winter Games. Again thinking it might interest GB forumers here, I reprint a short history of how Squaw Valley got the 1960 WOGs. History is always the best teacher. Apparently Atlanta's Billy Payne wasn't the first 'wild & crazy' American to single-handedly challenge the IOC. Squaw Valley's Alexander Cushing was the first of those solo, quixotic dreamers, and NO THANKS to that autocratic oaf, Avery Brundage!!

from: http://www.squaw.com/winter/history_olympics.html

VIII Winter Olympic Games

On a cold spring day in 1955, in Paris, France, Alexander Cushing managed to secure Squaw Valley USA as the site for the VIII Olympic Winter Games. To this day, many wonder how he convinced the International Olympic Committee to select a town with no mayor, and a ski resort with just one chairlift, two rope tows, and a fifty-room lodge. Some say that Cushing's interest in the Olympics was a lark. In fact, he was hopeful from the start and his success evidenced steadfast determination. It all began on December 26th, 1954 when he spotted an article in the San Francisco Chronicle stating that Reno, NV and Anchorage, AK had submitted bids to hold the 1960 Winter Olympics. Wouldn't it be marvelous publicity for Cushing's young resort to announce that Squaw Valley was also prepared to host the international event? Though his first call to a newspaper was met with laughter, Cushing pressed on and found an ally in Curly Grieves, the Sports Editor for the San Francisco Examiner. An eight column banner headline soon announced Squaw Valley's bid for the Games.

Word spread quickly and on January 7th, 1955 Cushing addressed the U.S. Olympic Committee in New York. Though prepared with a speech and film, he didn't get an opportunity to use either. The committee was so engaged with the "idea of a California valley with an annual snowfall of 450 inches, and a downhill event with areas that had never even been schussed successfully," recalls Cushing, that he found himself buried under an avalanche of questions and controversy. In the end, Squaw Valley emerged as the USOC's choice for the 1960 Winter Games.

Upon hearing the news, International Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage told Cushing, "the USOC obviously has taken leave of their senses." IOC member John J. Garland advised, "I think you are on a wild goose chase. Innsbruck has the 1960 bid locked up." With an eclectic but knowledgeable group including Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Daily News columnist George Weller, friend Marshall Haseltine, and French war hero Joe Marillac, Cushing organized a powerful campaign. He lobbied for support from all over the world, including the South American delegates, who ordinarily took little interest in the Winter Games. Cushing commissioned a 3,000 pound model of Squaw Valley, so large that it didn't fit in the IOC Exhibit Hall. He convinced the U.S. Ambassador to have it placed in a room at the Embassy. Viewing the model required a fifteen-minute walk from the IOC Headquarters, which Cushing repeated with each group of delegates. Whether it was the campaign, the model, or Cushing's presentation, something swayed the committee members. Garmisch Partenkirschen and St. Moritz were eliminated in the first vote. Innsbruck and Squaw Valley were left to vie for the Games until a second vote.

Committee members continued to assure Cushing that his case was hopeless. Innsbruck even began assigning living quarters to various delegations. Marillac however, proceeded to convince the European-dominated Federacion Internacionale du Ski (FIS), who were committed to the Alps' glory, that Squaw Valley was technically sufficient. Cushing's campaign succeeded through the power of an idea - a return to the Olympic ideals of simplicity with a focus on athleticism and diversity. His bid, written in French, English, and Spanish, declared that "the Olympics belong to the world. Not just one continent."

On June 17, 1955, Cushing and his team had visited forty-two IOC delegates, yet remained uncertain of victory. Then, with a final vote of 32 to 30, the IOC chose Squaw Valley to host the Games. Word spread quickly across the globe, followed by shock and disbelief. While Cushing's team celebrated, athletes wondered about winter in California. Cushing immediately began work to attract top people to the Organizing Committee and California started planning the necessary infrastructure.

During the next four and a half years, the Squaw Valley team, the California Organizing Committee, the State of California, Placer County and thousands of others worked to build a venue worthy of the Olympics. Freeways, hotels, motels, and restaurants were built in short order. Willy Schaeffler, an Olympic course designer, arrived immediately after the Games were awarded to Squaw Valley. He walked the mountain for four days before appearing in Cushing's office and declaring the site worthy. Because of his involvement in the 1936 Games and the 1952 World Championships in Aspen, he understood international standards, and worked tirelessly to create the skiing events for the Games. Access roads, bridges, chairlifts, athletes' housing, the Blyth Ice Arena, a speed skating oval, and a ski jump sprang from the Valley floor. Two unique buildings, the Nevada Visitors' Center, once the Opera House, and now the Far East Center, and the California Visitors' Center, now the Members' Locker building, still serve Squaw Valley USA today.

Hopefully, the WOGs return to the beautiful Sierra/Lake Tahoe region of Calif-Nevada again soon. (I might be doing a X-counry weekend myself in April.)

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Ah, Squaw. Lovely location. And the only Olympic downhill run I've ever ski'd personally (well, it may not have been graceful, but I got down the mountain somehow!).

I seem to remember reading somehwre once (maybe it was YOUR book, M) - didn't Disney do the ceremonies for it?

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I seem to remember reading somehwre once (maybe it was YOUR book, M) - didn't Disney do the ceremonies for it?

Yes, Walter Elias Disney sure did. It might've been the first-time the Olympics hired a professional showman/impressario to do the Ceremonies. He/his team took care of nearly everything -- from the design of the Torch to arranging for the nightime entertainment at the Village...not only for the athletes but for the press, etc., as well. That meant celebrities entertaining and many movie screenings. (Another author sent me a copy of the special Disney promotional brochure that was given to all the SV-1960 Ceremonies volunteers after the event. Quite filled with fascinating trivia.)

Am immersed in a lot of Disney stuff lately, including watching that documentary on the Sherman brothers (the writers for MARY POPPINS, etc., etc.) Apparently, starting in 1959 until the time WED died in 1966, those were the last, busiest years of his life. In 1959, there was prep for the Squaw Valley WOGs, and then working on Audio-animatronics...not only to debut at Disneyland but in prep for his 4 exhibits at the 1964-65 New York WOrld's Fair. And then the movies, the arrival of color for TV (1965), and prepping for MARY POPPINS, etc., etc.

Apparently, they sought the rights for like 16 years from this crazy author, P.L. Travers...who was originally from Barrow, Queensland. Even when they enticed Julie Andrews to play the role, they had NOT YET nailed down the rights to MP. Travers was such an ornery, persnickety character insofar as her creative child, MP, that Walt was so ticked off by her. At the premiere of MP in August 1964 in Hollywood, Walt had to finally tell her: "The ship has sailed, Pamela, the ship has sailed," because she was so anal-retentive to the end.

And no wonder when the new stage version came to life, it was darker...because this time she wanted to impose the original nature of her character, not the sunnier, Disneyfied version in the movie. The whole genesis of the MARY POPPPINS over the years is fascinating. And what a lying, scheming, conniving characer Travers was...even breaking a pair of twins in Ireland so she could adopt one for her child--and was totally elusive all her life about her adopted's son background whenever he questioned her. The old broad lived to 96!! But I get ahead of myself...

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Ah, Squaw. Lovely location. And the only Olympic downhill run I've ever ski'd personally (well, it may not have been graceful, but I got down the mountain somehow!).

I seem to remember reading somehwre once (maybe it was YOUR book, M) - didn't Disney do the ceremonies for it?

Oh never thought of that. I've done Whistler and Cypress...even broke my wrist a number of years back on the downhill piste at Whistler Creekside.

Anyway, back to Squaw Valley...Are they the inspiration for Sochi? Ha ha! They were really a make belief bid, weren't they. Highly doubtful that a bid like that could ever get by the IOC again - a town of virtually no population, that is.

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It really is still a wonder, especially when Innsbruck was in the picture, too. At least Sochi had the entire Russian Government behind it. All Cushing had was just a 'vision' & some oversized model that maybe made some people drool.

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I love this jump...

Jumping-Hill.jpg

The Squaw Valley Games were the first held in the Western United States and the first to be televised. Also for the first time computers were used to tabulate results. For skiing, French racer Jean Vuarnet became the first Olympian to compete on metal skis, a pair of Allais 60's and he won the Men's Downhill.

...and "the possition" and the sunglasses went down in history.

U1218024.jpg

vuarnet.jpg

il_570xN.203606338.jpg

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Yes, back then you were able to convince the IOC members already with nothing more than a model and an audacious idea, nowadays you are able to convince them already with a strong sponsor or political power in the background. So not much has changed actually. ;)

But by all accounts, the IOC certainly made a good choice back then in 1955. Squaw Valley offered intimate and unique Games in a unique environment. Those Games were the ones with probably the shortest distances in recent history! Once someone posted an aerial view of all the Olympic venues here -- it was astonishing how close all the venues were to each other.

It even appears to me that Squaw Valley were the last Olympic Games (summer or winter) which had a very modest, intact and carefree image and atmosphere. Even Lake Placid (under the impression of the maybe coldest period in the cold war -- and with an Olympic Village looking already like its future purpose, namely a prison) and Lillehammer (a wonderfully intimate winter sport site, but already in the era of professionalism in sports) didn't reach the image of that tiny "no-town-at-all" called Squaw Valley. Not to mention all the megacities which have hosted the Summer Games ever since.

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The Squaw Valley Games were the first held in the Western United States and the first to be televised.

The first 'Winter' Games, yes. But the actual first Olympics held in the Western United States were the 1932 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

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And the Squaw Valley Games were also not the first to be televised.

The first televised Games ever were the Berlin 1936 Games. And I'm pretty certain that there were already TV broadcasts also at Cortina 1956, if not even earlier.

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But by all accounts, the IOC certainly made a good choice back then in 1955. Squaw Valley offered intimate and unique Games in a unique environment. Those Games were the ones with probably the shortest distances in recent history! Once someone posted an aerial view of all the Olympic venues here -- it was astonishing how close all the venues were to each other.

Certainly one of the most compact winter Olympics ever, with the alpine skiing, the ice events, ski jumping, the O.V and the Press-TV building at the same place.

By the way, where were held the Nordic ski events?

olymapc.jpg

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By the way, where were held the Nordic ski events?

It's just not shown there on that compact map...but they were held in the flat areas around, including biathlon which saw its Olympic debut.

Luge & bobsled were NOT included because it was decided that the level of participation was not going to be large enough for the expense. For example, in 1958, SVOOC asked the Bobsled Federation how many nations intended to participate in 1960, and aside from the US, I think they said only 3. So the IOC agreed that it was toomuch money for just a few entries.

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The first 'Winter' Games, yes. But the actual first Olympics held in the Western United States were the 1932 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

meant Winter.

And the Squaw Valley Games were also not the first to be televised.

The first televised Games ever were the Berlin 1936 Games. And I'm pretty certain that there were already TV broadcasts also at Cortina 1956, if not even earlier.

The VIII Olympic Winter Games, were played in Squaw Valley, California from February 18th through 28th, 1960. They were the first Olympic Games to be broadcast on television in the United States. They were not, however, the first Olympic Games to be seen on television. That distinction goes to the 1936 Summer Olympics, played in Berlin and shown via closed circuit television. The 1948 Summer Olympics were broadcast by the BBC but only to sets within range of Wembley Stadium in London. It wasn’t until 1960, however, that viewers in the United States were able to see the Olympics on television, through a combination of taped and live events. CBS broadcast 13 hours of coverage (at least according to this CBS At 75 time line over the course of 11 days. Sports reporters Chris Schenkel and Bud Palmer were joined by former Olympians Dick Button and Art Devlin, plus CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, to cover the games.

My link

CBS bought the rights for $50,000. NBC bought the rights to telecast the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics for a total of $2,201,000,000.

I also read that the Berlin "broadcast" was only to some sort of special booths set up in Berlin and Potsdam, would be interested to see pictures of these if anyone has any info.

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This logo was always confused to me, I wondered how they arrived at this odd composition. Now I'm imagining the blue triangle represents the Blyth Arena, which seems to be the iconic structure of the games.

Is there any specific info on the logo design concept?

1960_Winter_Olympics_emblem.png

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I also read that the Berlin "broadcast" was only to some sort of special booths set up in Berlin and Potsdam, would be interested to see pictures of these if anyone has any info.

"Booths" or supposedly some early version of 'large-screen' tube technology TV sets.

Yeah, Cortina did have some domestic TV coverage (but I don't know if it was live. Certainly not broadcast to the U.S.)

THe other Squaw Valley TV history record is that it was the first time a US TV network paid the local organizing committee (the IOC still had not stepped into the TV negotiations act then) rights to telecast events. It was only in Tokyo 1964 that 'taped' images were beamed via satellite to U.S. markets; so they didn't have to be flown to LA or NY. And then it was Mexico 1968 that had the first 'live' satellite beams to the U.S. because of the favorable time zones.

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This logo was always confused to me, I wondered how they arrived at this odd composition. Now I'm imagining the blue triangle represents the Blyth Arena, which seems to be the iconic structure of the games.

Is there any specific info on the logo design concept?

1960_Winter_Olympics_emblem.png

Wikipedia says it's a star, snowflake and yeah the central triangle is both a mountain and Blyth Arena.

However, the truly interesting thing about it is that it says 'California' rather THAN 'Squaw Valley.' I think this is an earlier rendition when they were showing it in Cortina, etc., because people would say 'Squaw Valley' where? And California was more known.

Of course there is the famous error on the Torch. It says "Olympia to Squaw Valley" when in fact the flame was lit in Norway. (page 105, SECRETS OF THE OLYMPIC CEREMONIES.) So with that error, plus it seems only two dozen torches were made and only 5 are known to still exist today, the SV 1960 torch is probably the rarest of all Olympic torches.

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The VIII Winter Olympic Games, held in Squaw Valley in 1960, marked many notable events and achievements:

  • The 1960 Winter Olympics were the first Games held in the Western United States and the first to be televised.
  • The Olympic Village Inn was built to house more than 750 athletes; it allowed all athletes to be housed under one roof for the first and only time in modern Olympic history.
  • Computers were used to tabulate results for the first time. The glass-walled IBM processor drew almost as many observers as the competitions.
  • After a virtually snowless early season, a heavy Sierra storm moved in to save the Games. At the Opening Ceremonies, dense snowfall greeted the Greek delegation as it led the athletes' procession. The storm broke and the sky cleared just as Vice President Richard Nixon declared the Games officially open. Walt Disney, Head of Pageantry, oversaw the release of two thousand Doves into the cold air, and 4,000 California high school bandsmen provided accompaniment for Andrea Meade Lawrence as she skied down Papoose to hand the torch to Kenneth Henry, who lit the Olympic Flame.
  • Figure skater Carol Heiss took the Olympic Oath on behalf of all participating athletes, marking the first time that a woman enjoyed the honor. She later won the gold medal with first place rankings from all nine judges.
  • The largest group yet gathered to see a winter sports program in America convened on February 22, 1960 as over 47,000 spectators packed into the Valley.
  • Frenchman Jean Vuarnet became the first Olympian to compete on metal skis, a pair of Allais 60's. He won gold for France in the Men's Downhill.
  • At the height of the Cold War, with the whole world watching, the U.S. defeated the Russian Hockey Team in a heart pounding, down to the wire, 3-2 victory.
  • Then, with the help of Russian Team Captain Nikolai "Solly" Sologubov, the U.S. won its first gold medal in Hockey. In the minutes before the last period of the championship game with Czechoslovakia, "Solly" told the Americans to take breaths from an oxygen tank. Each player was given a "hit" and the "Team of Destiny" scored six goals in the last period, beating Czechoslovakia 9-4.

Squaw Valley USA

There is something so American (and still somewhat innocent) about these games. At the time and considering the location they must have seemed like such an uncharted unready place to go, but I imagine the shocking realization that this was indeed an alpine-sports environment on par with any on earth. I imagine the Europeans may have been dismissive before realizing what the Sierra has to offer, and now they also know the Wasatch, only the Rockies have yet to host the competition, a sad footnote for Olympic winter sport.

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