With parades, the devil’s in the details

Welcome-home parades for local Olympians are hard to organize. The Olympics aren’t the end of the World Cup season for many sports, and then there are world and national championships. It’s not easy to figure out dates when the maximum number of our hometown heroes can be here.

On top of that, it’s sometimes hard to figure out which Olympians to count as “local” here in Lake Placid, with its busy Olympic Training Center where so many athletes spend so much of the year when they’re not on tour, competing. For basic parade purposes, it’s fairly easy – just invite them all and welcome whomever shows up – but the details can get tricky.

The Enterprise staff, for instance, has been giving photos and bios of the local Olympians to organizers of the Saranac Lake parade for some kind of flyer to be given out during that event March 26. Which ones to include? Organizers suggested going with the “Olympic 9” we had plugged before the games and adding Erin Hamlin of Remsen, who won a bronze medal in women’s luge Feb. 11 at the Sochi games. We did that, and it’s all away at the printer.

Now we’re putting together a wrap-around page for next week’s Lake Placid News – the issue that will be available during the March 16 parade in Lake Placid – which will also have photos of the local Olympians we’re so proud of. Seems simple, right? Yet it’s amazing how, weeks after the Olympics are over, despite months of hard work beforehand trying to figure out who was local enough to be one of our “local Olympians,” our list is still in flux.

The seven who grew up here are locked in: Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Annelies Cook, Bill Demong, Peter Frenette, Chris Mazdzer and Andrew Weibrecht. But we also like to include the ones who, instead of just training here part of the year, have made Lake Placid their home and live there whenever they’re not away competing. Their U.S. Olympic Committee bios usually state some other hometown, but we know better … or do we?

We included two such athletes in our “Olympic 9”: bobsled driver Jamie Greubel and doubles luger Jayson Terdiman, both formerly of Pennsylvania. In an extended list below, we named those who train here and/or went to school here.

But now we hear from local winter sports officials that other bobsledders, lugers and perhaps some skeleton racers have, like Mr. Terdiman and Ms. Greubel, moved out of the OTC and established primary residences here. We covered them during the Olympics, but we left them off our list.

It feels terrible to leave people out, and we’re sorry.

It can be a fine line, and sometimes it just takes an undeterminable number of years lived here before one becomes a “local,” even in the most basic sense for newspaper purposes. (Becoming a local in native locals’ eyes is another matter entirely.) For instance, when Gordy Sheer medaled in doubles luge in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, the Enterprise reported him as being from Westchester County, even though he was living in Lake Placid and has lived here ever since. The same goes for Mark Grimmette, who, like Sheer, now helps lead the next generation of lugers training in this village. In Mr. Grimmette’s first couple of Olympics, we reported him as being from Michigan. By the end, we said he was from Lake Placid.

So for this Lake Placid News wrap, we’re going to put in photos of a few more “local Olympians” than we had listed as such previously. We’re trying to make extra-sure to include those who might be here for one or both parades – although not all of those are for sure yet, or will be by the time this wrap goes to press. We don’t want some local kid to meet a terrific Olympian to get an autograph and then blurt out, “Hey, you’re not on the poster.” That would be awkward.

Nevertheless, please bear with us and believe that our intentions are good. If we had enough space, time and information, we would make an entire poster of each and every Olympian who has ever trained here. We’re that proud of them.

Details aside, these parades are going to be brilliant occasions for joy and hometown pride, just as the ones in 2010 were. Please come to one or both of them: March 16 in Lake Placid, starting at 5:30 p.m., and March 26 in Saranac Lake, starting at 3:15.