HISTORY IS COOL: 48 years ago

Feb. 6, 1975

Silent world of sports

Thirteen groups of strikingly costumed athletes, each parading behind their national flag, marched with pride onto the ice sheet of the Olympic Arena.

This parade of nations Monday was the opening ceremony of the VIII World Winter Games for the Deaf, which will run through Saturday, Feb. 8. As each group entered, a torch was lighted and placed to the left of the raised dais.

More than 200 athletes, coaches and officials representing Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States lined up facing the dais, where officials of the International Committee for Silent Sports (CISS) and the U.S. organizing committee were assembled.

While hundreds of spectators, mostly deaf, sat quietly in the stands, Simon Carmel, chairman of the games, welcomed the group. His sign language was translated for the hearing audience.

Then a huge green, blue and yellow unfurled CISS flag was carried around the ice by eight American athletes. It was carried behind the dais. As it was raised against the arena wall, the CISS anthem was played.

A brief welcome by Lake Placid Mayor Robert Peacock followed. He also signed. Then an athlete took the competitor’s oath in sign language. This was also translated.

The evening concluded with a short skating exhibition by three pairs skaters.

During the week, competitions in cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, ice hockey and speedskating were conducted. A figure skating exhibition was also held.

This is the first time since the Deaf Games were started in 1949 that events besides skiing have been included.

An informal toboggan competition was sponsored by the Lake Placid Lions Club on Sunday evening at the Mirror Lake slide.

Throughout the week, the deaf athletes and officials were evident in the village in their colorful uniforms.

The National Theatre of the Deaf presented two plays in the Lake Placid Club’s Agora Theater, sponsored by the Lake Placid Association for Music, Drama and Art. The first was “The Dybbuk,” a classic Jewish love story of a young girl possessed by the spirit of her dead lover interwoven with devils, demons and exorcism. The second was “Priscilla, Princess of Power.” The play by cartoonist James Stevenson has its origins in comic books and pop culture.

Competition in the games began on Tuesday morning at Mount Van Hoevenberg, where the 15-kilometer cross-country race for men and the 5-kilometer race for women were held.

The Russian skiers nearly swept the field in both events. The four-man Russian team finished one, two, three and four with less than three minutes separating first and fourth places.

The Russian women place one, two. A Finnish girl and a Norwegian broke the Russian supremacy, pushing the remaining Russian girls into fifth and sixth places.

The course conditions at the cross-country race were very firm. The lack of snow, only an inch in some spots, was evident with grass showing in the finish area. The hard work of the volunteers who shoveled snow and used snow blowers several days prior to competition, to put the trail in shape, deserves much praise.

EXPLORE the Lake Placid News archives for yourself. Beware, though, you can easily fall into a rabbit hole while rummaging through this history. Have fun!

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