THE FLAME STILL BURNS - (by Lee
Manchester for the Lake Placid News, Friday, December 28, 2001)
This weekend, the Olympic Village rededicates
its own 1980 flame and salutes the 2002 Olympic Torch on its
way to Salt Lake City
LAKE PLACID - This will be a unique, unforgettable
weekend in the Olympic Village.
The 2002 Olympic Torch will pass through Lake
Placid on Saturday accompanied by festivities and ceremonies
to celebrate and honor the Olympic ideal.
And a cohort of the 52 men and women who carried
the Flame in the 1980 Olympic Torch Relay from Langley AFB to
Lake Placid will reunite for the first time in over a decade
as Lake Placid's own Olympic Flame Tower is rededicated Friday
Between 18 and 20 of the 52 runners chosen to relay the Olympic
Flame from a U.S. Air Force Base in Virginia to Lake Placid in
1980 will be present for Friday night's rededication ceremonies.
Those amateur runners; (26 men, 26 women); were chosen to represent
the 50 American states, the District of Columbia and Lake Placid
as they carried the Flame that symbolized the Olympic ideal.
That Flame opened a Winter Games no one would forget -- Games
that saw Eric Heiden take five gold medals for speed skating,
and Games that witnessed the spectacular "Miracle on Ice"
victory of the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team over the imposing, almost-unbeatable
As unforgettable as were the 1980 Winter Games, neither will
the 1980 Torchbearers ever forget their experience carrying the
Flame that opened those Games.
Chris Ortloff, now a New York assemblyman representing the Plattsburgh
district, was the director of ceremonies for the 1980 Olympics.
In that role he worked closely with the Torchbearers, and he
has kept in touch with them ever since.
The 49 surviving 1980 Torchbearers are still a very, very close-knit
group, said Ortloff in an April interview. They publish a yearly
newsletter to update one another on the progress of their lives,
gather periodically for reunions, even help bury those of their
members who pass on.
"They're still some of the Olympic movement's biggest supporters,
too," Ortloff said. "If we were to ask them to help
in mounting a campaign for another Winter Game in Lake Placid,
they'd all sign on in a second."