HISTORY IS COOL: 90 years ago
Feb. 13, 1931
A new sport in the United States came into official being on the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic bob-run last Friday and Saturday. A significant fact this — that Lake Placid, long known as the winter-sports capital of the country, was the scene of the first bob-sled races ever raced on a run of Olympic length and specifications in this nation.
The popularity of this sport in the short period that it has been enjoyed at this resort has far exceeded the hopes and predictions of its most ardent supporters. Crowds of spectators and throngs of riders have enjoyed the thrills that have for years been on the European winter-sports calendar.
These thrills are now to be a permanent part of Lake Placid’s winter programs even after the III Olympic Winter Games of 1932 have become history. Bob-sledding as a sport has come to stay in Lake Placid.
Last Friday and Saturday were gala days. Clear, sub-zero temperatures in the early morning, with the air warmed at noon by a late winter sun. Throngs of onlookers and contestants with their multi-colored sports garments making a vivid contrast with the white background of snow and ice. The breath-taking performances of some of the fastest bob riders in the whole world — the flags, the bugles, the roars of applause, the keen competition of the riders — all combined to make these two never-to-be forgotten days.
These two days hold great promise, and a promise that will be fulfilled each winter to come in increasing measure.
Henry Homburger of Saranac Lake, engineer of the Olympic bobsled run and steersman for the Saranac Lake Sports Association in the first races held on the run, is the first North American bobsled champion.
In the two-man races Friday, Homburger took second and in Saturday’s four-man events placed first.
In the final races, the most thrilling of all, Homburger was leading at the close of every heat. His team of “Red Devils,” with scarlet and blue costumes, included Edmund S. Horton as brakeman, Percy D. Bryant and Paul Stevens.
J. Hubert Stevens of Lake Placid, with Arthur Adams as brakeman, won the two-man events. The second day, with Curtis Stevens at the brakes and Adams and Stewart “Buster” MacGillis passengers, they encountered an accident.
In the first heat, Stevens and his team started well. When they reached the Zigzag, they had made the record time for the four-man races, but on leaving that curve their sled shot from the run because of their terrific speed and they were thrown into the air. All were badly shaken up and withdrew from the races. Their time to Zigzag was unequalled.
Shortly afterward, the German sled, with Baron Walther von Mumm as steersman, met with a similar accident. They drove two more heats but were put so far behind by their mishap that they did not finish.
A special train brought to Lake Placid about 40 legislators, interested in the state-built run. Prizes and medals were awarded Saturday night at a banquet at the Lake Placid Club.