SUPERVISOR SPOTLIGHT: Jay Rand jumps into another supervisor’s race

North Elba town Supervisor Jay Rand tries out the Sky Flyer Zipline at the Olympic Jumping Complex after it opened in the summer of 2020. (Provided photo — ORDA)

LAKE PLACID — The only town supervisor in the Olympic Region to have a Wikipedia page is Jay Rand, and there’s only one sentence on the page:

“Jay Rand (born March 4, 1950 in Lake Placid, New York) is an American former ski jumper who competed at the 1968 Winter Olympics.”

This page is an understatement; it leaves out a lifetime of achievements.

Rand, 71, is completing his second year as North Elba town supervisor and plans to run again in November. He may be a freshman supervisor, but he spent the previous 32 years as a town councilman, first running on the Republican ticket in 1987 when Ronald Reagan was the U.S. president. His story, however, actually began during the Harry Truman administration.

Native son

Jay J. Rand Jr. was born on Saturday, March 4, 1950 at the Lake Placid General Hospital to Eileen (Hall) and Jay Rand Sr. His father was also a jumper — a broad jumper on the Lake Placid High School track-and-field team, a ski jumper with the Lake Placid Club Sno Birds and a parachuting jumper in the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II, serving in six major European combat invasions and earning a Bronze Star for heroic action in France and a Purple Heart for wounds received during the Battle of the Bulge.

Rand is a graduate of St. Agnes School and Northwood School. He was on the Lake Placid Junior Ski Jumping Team when he was 6 years old and joined the U.S. Ski Jumping Team in 1966 at the age of 16. Just before his 18th birthday, he competed in the 1968 Olympic Winter Games at Grenoble, France. Afterward, he broke an international hill record at Lahti, Finland and became the international junior champion.

When he came home, the village celebrated “Jay Rand Day” on March 19, organized by the Lions Club. He was the first Lake Placid boy of a high school age to be named to an Olympic team. The celebration featured a parade up Main Street, from the Lakeside Motel to the Olympic Arena.

Rand earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Colorado, competing on the ski jumping team there. In 1970, he was the NCAA ski jumping champion and was named to the All American Ski Team, and he competed in the International University Sports Federation’s Winter World University Games in Finland. He was on the World Team in 1974 and competed on the U.S. Ski Jumping Team until 1976.

Rand attended graduate school at the University of Vermont, where he competed in ski jumping and earned a certificate in teaching. In September 1976, he married Gun Christenson of Oslo, Norway, and he began teaching English and coaching soccer, lacrosse and skiing at the Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, New Hampshire.

Rand returned to Lake Placid in 1977. A report in the Aug. 25, 1977 issue of the Lake Placid News that he would be teaching fifth grade at St. Agnes School in the fall didn’t materialize. Instead, he was hired by the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee and worked there through the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. While the venue manager at the ski jumping complex, he was the first jumper to try out the newly finished 90-meter ski jump (now 120-meter jump) on Feb. 1, 1979.

Rand never left ski jumping. From 1983 to 1994, he was a ski jumping commentator for ABC and ESPN, including the 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo. He was chairman of the Eastern and National Ski Jumping Committees and was on the International Ski Federation’s Ski Jumping Committee.

Rand was the venue manager of the ski jumps for the town of North Elba until the newly formed state Olympic Regional Development Authority took over the facility in 1982.

As an ORDA employee, he remained in that position and simultaneously took on duties as the venue manager of the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg (bobsled and luge runs and cross-country ski and biathlon facilities). In 1996, he became general manager of the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington and stayed there until 2009, when he was hired as executive director of the New York Ski Educational Foundation. He retired from NYSEF in 2016 but continues as a NYSEF ski jumping coach.

Rand has volunteered for several organizations over the years, including the Lake Placid Ski Club, Lake Placid 2000 Club, Lake Placid Sports Council, National Sports Academy and the Lake Placid Lions Club. He was inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame in 2003 and is a member of the Northwood School Hall of Fame.

Olympians as supervisor

It’s not unusual for a local Olympian to become town supervisor in North Elba. Lake Placid’s Jack Shea, who won two gold medals in speedskating during the 1932 Olympic Winter Games, was a town justice from 1959 to 1973 and town supervisor from 1974 to 1981.

Shea served as supervisor during a crucial period in the town’s history — as the community was preparing for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, including venue construction, through the games, and immediately after the games when the state created the state Olympic Regional Development Authority to operate the venues.

Rand wants to do something similar. The community is currently preparing for the 2023 Winter World University Games, including massive construction and repairs at various ORDA venues, and he wants to be supervisor through the games themselves. A win in November would secure that goal.