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Hula hooping the Olympic rings?

February 12, 2015
By NAJ WIKOFF - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Hula Hooping the Olympic rings? That's what Lake Placid Elementary School kids were doing Monday, Feb. 9 as part of Lake Placid Olympic Museum Manager Alison Haas's program of taking the museum on the road.

Several days earlier, on Tuesday, Feb. 3, Haas encouraged adults to visit the museum and learn a bit of history through hosting a trivia contest. I arrived to cover that event and was recruited by Sue Cameron of the Ladies on the Lake team that needed a fourth to fill out their table. About 18 tables were set out with snacks on each, wine, beer and other refreshments were for sale, a table prizes for winners of individual rounds was laid out, a grand prize basket, and the barker Shaun Donovan was ready to start.

If you haven't been to the museum lately, Haas and her team have been upgrading the exhibits and presenting memorabilia from the 1932 and 1980 Olympics as well as artifacts from all the previous Winter Games. The collection is really engaging, and I always learn something new. The contest was organized as eight themed rounds with ten questions each. The Trivia contest underscored I still had a lot more to learn. Indeed our team was slaughtered with questions that focused on the '80s. Do you know at which Olympic Games man-made snow was first used? Or where in Lake Placid the first bobsled run was built? The answer isn't Mount Van Hoevenberg.

Article Photos

Kids hula hooping Olympic ring colored hoops
(Photo — Naj Wikoff)

The competition was fierce, the lead went back and forth, and three hours flew by. All I can say, if you plan to join a team, I highly recommend being on one that includes the dynamic trio of Cameron, Kathy Pfohl, and Denise Bujold. Bottom line, we won.

"I think secret to winning was a conglomeration of knowledge between young and old ages," said Pfhol in a not so subtle underscoring of her youth as compared to her teammates.

"I'm ecstatic," said Bujold. "I think it's wonderful all these OLD people can have so much fun and exuberate so much knowledge."

"I think we did so poorly on the 80's questions because we do not remember the '80s," said Cameron. "Most of the '80s questions stumped me. There is a reason for that. Some people say if you remember the '60s you weren't there, same seems to be true for the '80s."

The other outcome of the Trivia contest was finding myself in the Elementary School gym embarrassing myself with my inability to keep the Hula Hoop going for more than a minute. Haas, on the other hand, is a pro as were most of the kids twirling the Olympic colors around their waist, neck, arms, and a few more than one at a time. This occurred because I asked Haas what was the next event the Museum was planning.

Haas and phys ed teacher Kaysie Kyler dreamed up the Olympic themed activities as a way of educating kids about the Olympics and engaging them in physical activities. Having warmed them up with the hoops, Haas used a series of large posters to discuss how a half dozen local Olympians got into their sport, such as biathlon, ski jumping, Nordic Combined, and Alpine skiing. The kids learned they started young and early on dreamed of being an Olympian. They learned about the differences between the sports and what it took to win. (The museum is planning an upcoming exhibit on the 14 local skiing Olympians).

After a round of questions that included how many kids skied (most, several as jumpers) and what was an exciting memory (winning, or friend winning), they introduced the kids to the Paralympics showing them how equipment had been modified to meet the athlete's needs. Following additional questions, the kids participated in a modified version of a Paralympian biathlon course spread across the gym floor.

Kids were paired up, one kneeling on a wheeled disk, propelling themselves around a course using their hands, and twice en route lying on the floor and throwing four balls at a target, and the other helping them out of jams, replacing thrown balls, and cheering their partner on. Then they switched places. One clear message was that being a Paralympian was no piece of cake; these athletes were to be admired.

"I had fun," said Malia. "I learned that some people sled ski."

"I learned that you can learn how to ski at any age," said Kyra.

"I've been searching about the Olympics on the web site," said Owen, age 8. "I may be interested in being an Olympian, probably in Alpine skiing."

"I learned that everybody can do a lot of cool things even if they are handicapped, and really they are not," said Wyatt.

"I learned how to sit ski," said Olivia. "It was fun and I hit the targets."

"I learned that nothing is impossible as long as you never give up," said Reid. "I want to be an Olympian in downhill skiing."

"I'm just trying to teach all different ages, whether you are an adult or you are a child in a phys ed program and have not tried skiing, that skiing can be fun for everyone, you can learn at any age, and there are many different skiing disciplines. I hope that sharing the memories of our Olympians will inspire people to want to learn how to ski."

"I think it was an awesome class," said teacher Kaysie Kyler. "I am so appreciative that Allison came in and shared with the kids that you can do anything even if your body might say otherwise. The students loved the activity. They left appreciating that people of any age, size, and ability can compete in sports. I had a student say last week, "Isn't it kind of like cheating when you get to sit down on a sled with skis?" I said, "You'll find out." At the end of class today he said, "That was really hard!"

Many left wanting to be Olympians, not sure which sport, but confident that they were at the right age to start.



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