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‘60 Minutes Sports’ highlights Placid tonight

February 5, 2014
By staff , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - CBS' magazine-style television sports show, "60 Minutes Sports," will feature Lake Placid's 1980 Winter Olympics when it airs tonight at 10 o'clock on CBS's Showtime Sports channel.

"You've heard of the 'Miracle on Ice,' but what about the miracle that brought it all together?" a "60 Minutes Sports" announcer says in a preview promotion.

"They had so much determination," North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi says of local Olympic organizers in the clip.

Article Photos

Jim Rogers at the Olympic Center (Photo provided by CBS)

"It's really a story about the 1980 games but based less on the stories about the athletic accomplishments, which we all know about, and have become legend," "60 Minutes" producer Clem Taylor said in November. "It's really about the men from Lake Placid who brought the games to town and who served on the organizing committee, and the fact that it was really the last small-town Olympics."

Taylor said he got the idea for the story while on a tour of the Olympic facilities in August with 81-year-old Placidian Jim Rogers, who was on the organizing committee for the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games. Rogers is the former owner of local radio station WNBZ and now leads tours at the Olympic Center.

"My wife and daughter and I went on a tour with Jim, and I was very much taken by the story of the town founders of Lake Placid, who worked so diligently to not only bring the 1980 games to Lake Placid but pull them off," Taylor said.

CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod did the show's interviews.

A press release about tonight's show says that in addition to the U.S. team's "Miracle" win over the Soviets in 1980, "there was another miracle during those games that local residents of Lake Placid talk about. First it was being able to secure the huge international event, and then actually holding the games in the sleepy upstate New York village - a twin feat managed by a handful of 'North Country Boys' whose ambitions were bigger than their experience."

The 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee included a bunch of men who called themselves the "North Country Boys." They included Vern Lamb of the local lumber yard; Norm Hess, a lawyer; Bob Peacock, a milkman who also served as mayor; Bernie Fell, a policeman who became a minister; and retired Postmaster Ron Mackenzie.

Rogers recalls how they got the 1980 games in a failed bid for the 1976 Olympics, which nonetheless impressed the International Olympic Committee.

"Lord Killanin, president of the International Olympic Committee, came up to the group and said, 'Thank you very much for making a very impressive bid,'" Rogers said. "And then he turned around to Mackenzie and gave him a wink and said, 'I'm going to enjoy being in Lake Placid for the 1980 games.'"

Serge Lussi, 79, a local hotel owner and one of the youngest members of the committee, was chairman of the alpine skiing events.

"For every other Olympic games, (alpine chairmen) were all Jean Claude Killys world-class people," he says. "The Europeans said, '... how can you run the alpine when you're nobody?'"

Hosting the media extravaganza that is the Olympics today is a totally different experience, a world away from this little North Country resort village. ABC secured the television rights to the 1980 games for $15 million. NBC is said to have paid $774 million for the games being held in Sochi.

Figure skater Scott Hamilton, who carried the U.S. flag in the 1980 games opening ceremonies, recalls those Olympics as "kind of mom and pop.

"It was just an intimate and very small town, kind of, you know, 'Let's put a show on for the world,'" Hamilton told "60 Minutes Sports."



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