Olympic Winter Games review

The world is preparing to watch the 22nd Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia from February 7 to 14. The only other Olympic Games ever held in Russia were in Moscow in the summer of 1980.

A boycott of those games by President Jimmy Carter in addition to Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan on Christmas Day, 1979 brought the Cold War fever to a pitch and it brought the entire population of United States to a pitch and to its feet when the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, average age, 22, beat Russia 4 to 3. The Russian team arrived at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid with a winning streak of 31 games.

Death on the bob run

Following is a story from the Enterprise of February, 1949 found in the archives of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library.

“LAKE PLACID, Feb. 10 (AP) -A Belgian bobsled driver was reported killed today when his sled shot over a curve on the Mt. Van Hoevenburg run.

“Conservation officials reported that Max Houben, about 42, died within an hour and a half after the accident.

“Brakeman Jack Mouvet, about 35, was injured. There was no immediate report on the nature or extent of his injuries.

“The accident occurred on shady curve about half-way down the treacherous mile run. Their two-man sled shot to the top of the 25-foot wall and soared into the woods.

“A state conservation ambulance took the men to the hospital. Houben and Mouvet were practicing for the World Two-Man Bobsled championship to be held Saturday and Sunday.

“It was the second accident this week for Mouvet. He escaped injury Tuesday when a two-man sled driven by Marcell LeClef crashed into the icy wall on the Zig-Zag curve. LeClef was also was not injured in that mishap.

“The Belgians’ crackup came shortly after two American sleds driven by Tuffield Latour of Saranac Lake, N.Y., and by Fred Fortune of Lake Placid had qualified to represent the United States in the two-man competition.

“Latour with 274-pound Leo Martin of Saranac Lake as his brakeman, negotiated four trips down the mile long icy curve in a total time of five minutes, 19.88 seconds. He also made the fastest single run of the day, 1:19.08.

“Fortune and Schuyler Carron, a 272-pounder from AuSable Forks, made an aggregate time of 5:23.66. Another Saranac Lake team, John Gregory and John McDonald, finished third in 5:24.93 to earn the designation as alternate entry in the championships.

“Fourth place went to Bud Washbond, Keene Valley, and Pat Martin, Massena, in 5:25.36; fifth went to Dick Surphlis, New York City, in 5:28.78; sixth went to Robert Tyler, Jr., and Charles Borni, Elizabethtown, 5:30.58; and seventh went to Larry McKillip and Bob Dupree of Saranac Lake in 5:40.22.

Memorial at Vet’s Club

The Saranac Lake Veterans Club, sponsor of the U.S. No. 1 four-man bobsled team hosted a Max Houben Memorial dinner on Feb. 21 in the newly decorated dining room at the Vets Club. The walls were draped with the flags of France, Belgium, Switzerland and the United States. Isadore Ufirer, Fourth District Commander of the American Legion addressed the group paying tribute to Houben, all the athletes and all the veterans. The story said: “Ufirer had served his country during wartime and was a member of a four-man bobsled team driven by George Anson in 1931.” Dr. Heinz Cattani, a member of the F.I.B.T. jury, spoke for the French and Swiss guests thanking the Veterans Club for its hospitality. [The Lake Placid name is spelled Urfirer not Ufirer so I don’t know if that spelling in the 1949 story is an error.]

Previous Olympic Winter Games

1924 Chamonix, France; 1928 St. Moritz, Switzerland; 1932 Lake Placid, United States; 1936 Garmisch/Partenkirchen, Germany; [No games until after WWII]; 1948 St. Moritz, Switzerland; 1952 Oslo, Norway; 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; 1960 Squaw Valley, United States; 1964 Innsbruck, Austria; 1968 Grenoble, France; 1972 Sapporo, Japan; 1976 Innsbruck, Austria; 1980 Lake Placid, United States; 1984 Sarajevo, Yugoslavia; 1988 Calgary, Canada; 1992 Albertville, France; 1994 Lillehammer, Norway; 1998 Nagano, Japan; 2002 Salt Lake City, United States; 2006 Turin, Italy; 2010, Vancouver, Canada.

[South Korea has been awarded the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Lake Placid, Innsbruck and St. Moritz are the only sites to hold the Olympic Winter Games twice.]