The start of Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California in Squaw Valley was supposed to be one of the biggest events to come to the Lake Tahoe area since the VIII Winter Olympics in 1960, when the world turned it’s attention to our little spot on the map. The snow that we were so grateful for all Winter, though, proved to be the undoing of our best laid plans. On Sunday, the storm left the Stage 1 course covered with 4-8 inches of snow, with even more forecast for Monday. Temperatures overnight were in the mid 20’s, turning the slush into ice, so it was determined the route from Squaw Valley couldn’t be run safely. At 11pm Sunday night, the decision was made to move the start to last years opening venue, Nevada City. “Thanks to the quick action taken by Duane Strawser, Nevada City's 2010 local organizing committee chairman, we were able to make this location change, allowing us a great and practical location to lead off today's race,” said Andrew Messick, the president of AEG Sports which owns and operates the race. Stage 2 started at 12:15pm on Monday under threatening skies, but only a brief rain shower bothered the riders. The silver lining in all this for Squaw Valley and the Olympic Valley area is that all the pre-race activities went off as planned, with many visitors from around the world able to appreciate and enjoy the area under sunny skies at times. The army of vendor booths reported giving away as much free swag as if the race had taken place. While not the outcome anyone wanted, the planned race still served to focus attention on our little corner of the world, and the fact that it was still snowing was not all bad, since we’re mostly known and valued for the great skiing!
I was able to make my way down to Nevada City to watch the start with a good friend of mine, Bill Quirk, a great skier in the classic style of Stein Eriksen. As we were sitting in our fold up chairs waiting for the riders and the endless line of team cars, CHPs, race officials, motorcycles, ambulances and broom wagons to arrive, we started talking about Squaw Valley and the 1960 Winter Olympics. He told me an amazing story about how he worked for the company that made the Olympic Rings for that historic event that helped make Squaw Valley what it is today. What’s more, he even had a picture! Of course I asked him to show it to me and I can now share it with you. The picture was taken in 1959. That’s Bill on the right, with his boss standing next to him.The company was Victress Manufacturing Co. in North Hollywood, Ca. According to Bill, “A mock-up was originally made of a wood structure and casting plaster. A fiberglass mold was made off the mock-up consisting of both sides. A fiberglass, hand lay-up was made of both sides and joined together. The joints were ground smooth, sanded and the rings painted the appropriate colors and shipped to Squaw Valley.” There’s nothing more symbolic of the 1960 VIII Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley than the Olympic Rings and now you know, as Paul Harvey would say, ”the rest of the story” thanks to my friend and our chance conversation at the start of the Tour of California.
Hopefully, the bike race will be back, because it would have been epic and it deserves another chance. The weather is in transition, in May in the mountains, from Winter to Summer. A few days before the race, temperatures had been in the 60’s in Squaw Valley and a few days later the warm weather was back. It was just bad luck and bad timing that we had temperatures 25 degrees below normal. We promise to behave next year, AMGEN.
While bikes are still on our mind, don’t forget this is Tahoe Bike Challenge week, May23-June 3 (Mon-Fri), where everyone is encouraged to ride bikes in lieu of using a car. This year participate in Bucks 4 Bikes to raise dollars for the purchase of bicycles for youth who might otherwise not have one. Visit www.tahoebike.org for information.
Check tahoe.wxview.com for up to date information on the weather and road conditions and join us on Olympic Village Inn Facebook to stay up to date with all that’s happening here and in Olympic Valley.
Have a great week!