With the 2014 Winter Olympics quickly approaching some thoughtful reflection is in order. “Images of Sports: The 1960 Winter Olympics” provides a nostalgic glimpse back in time to another epic Winter Olympics that took place right here at Lake Tahoe. The 1960 Winter Olympics put stunning Squaw Valley on the map and showcased the fine beauty of our Sierra retreat. Author David C. Antonucci has artfully compiled a lavish display of black and white vintage photographs, many of them taken by official Olympic photographer Bill Briner, and combined them with a detail-filled narrative that reveals the history of this event and illuminates its massive scope. You won’t want to miss the pictures, but the story behind the games is at the core of Antonucci’s 128-page softcover pictorial. It tells a story of inspiration, perseverance, community, engagement and love. You will come to understand the passion, pride and hard work that launched this gala onto the world stage for posterity. On opening day of the VIII Olympic Winter Games, Feb. 11, 1960, Lake Tahoe basked in one of its finest hours. But it never would have happened without the diligence and grit of visionaries that wouldn’t back down, as well as the talented taskmasters that persevered. Antonucci unveils tidbits and truths that entice you to read on.
Without a doubt there was a lot to coordinate and many issues to overcome. This particular Olympic event was unlike any other. It was the first time a winter game site was built starting from square one. There were many more firsts, including electronic timing of events, instant replays and a live TV broadcast by CBS for 31 consecutive hours. It was also a first for women’s participation in speed skating, as well as a first-time gold medal win for the American ice hockey team. Challenges sometimes seemed insurmountable. The space was compact, the weather was fierce and limited construction schedules and there were accommodations to provide for 665 athletes from 30 different countries, as well as for their trainers and coaches. In a span of four years the site was planned, built and tested. The final outcome dazzled.
Walt Disney played a pivotal role in entertainment and ceremonial activities. He did not disappoint. In his typical fashion he created an amazing spectacle of pomp and circumstance, making opening day exceptional and beyond expectation. Volunteers, including military personnel, provided the backbone. They worked in the trenches in all areas of operation, thousands of them. At opening night’s conclusion, following the Star Spangled Banner, 30,000 balloons were released. Cannons fired flags of participating nations into the winter skies above Lake Tahoe. One can only imagine how awe-inspiring it was to be there in real time.
“Images of Sports: The 1960 Winter Olympics” will take you back to those glory days in winter of 1960. Published by Arcadia Publishing Company it can be purchased on Amazon.com or you can buy it locally at various stores around the lake including Cecil’s Market, Camp Richardson and Zephyr Cove Resort in South Lake Tahoe. Call 530-542-3245 to order through Lake Tahoe Books and Art and enjoy a nostalgic journey back in time.
Gloria Sinibaldi resides part time in South Lake Tahoe. Her short story, “A Means To Survive,” appears in “Tahoe Blues.” She is a job coach, trainer and author. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.