It is not the 1980 Olympics ice rink that I wanted to see. All of us who know our Olympics history know that rink is where “The Miracle on Ice” was pulled off by the U.S. hockey team. What I wanted to see was the 1932 rink, the one where Sonja Henie was the star.
Henie was the dominant figure skater of her era. The gold she won in Lake Placid was sandwiched around similar feats in ’28 and ’36.
Few below a certain age will remember Henie, the Norwegian ice-skater, Nazi sympathizer and later movie star in the U.S.. Even I am too young to remember Henie on skates, but I did see a few of her movies. I am almost sure I saw “Countess of Monte Cristo” (1948). She also won gold in 1928 and 1936.
The 1932 rink where Henie performed and won her second gold medal for figure skating lives on. It is just south of downtown Placid and is under the same roof as the 1980 rink. Just a few hollow corridors away.
On the 9th, before leaving for Cooperstown via Albany, Nebra and I entered the old venue. Although it is now used by locals for various events, it is a dark setting, evoking the long-ago. What is 1932 and what has changed I was not sure. As seating goes, it is smaller for certain. I thought the scoreboard at the end of the area was likely unchanged. It has an olden metal cage guarding it. But the red seats, white benches, blue railings and trim and the scarred desk where the judges sat, I figure, is modern.
Anyway I liked it much more than the modern 1980 arena. The year ’32 was a more innocent time, America was caught in the Great Depression, Hitler had not yet assumed power in Germany and of course there was not so much Olympics commercialism as TV later demanded.
If you believe that certain events, intense moments in life, leave a spiritual presence long after they happen, you can sit there in the old stands and almost see the ghost of Henie leaping into a beautiful axel as the crowd cheered on.