“When I was a boy, we made skis out of barrel staves. We didn’t know we were supposed to use poles,” George Remington recounted.
George, my grandfather, grew up on Racquette Lake, where his parents were caretakers for a great camp. Some historians posit that Racquette Lake got its name because a retreating Tory brigade abandoned their snowshoes (“racquette” in French) on their flight to Canada during the Revolution. It’s a paradox that Grandpa was figuring out skis in a place named for a huge pile of abandoned snowshoes.
My grandfather would have been on skis in the early 1920s, about the same time that the first ski races were held in Lake Placid. Originally a summer resort, the town began promoting winter sports around 1905. One account suggests that winter vacationers back then had to be taught how to have fun on the snow.
Harv and I had an animated discussion on the scope of this story. I wanted to cover the dawn of Lake Placid ski sport to the 1932 Winter Olympics, through the 1940s to the present. Doesn’t everyone want to know about the raw eggs at the feed station in the 1932 50 km race?
Then, like Refrigerator Perry surveying an IHOP breakfast bar, I began to think about tying Lake Placid into a survey of cross-country ski culture across the entire north country. Dewey Mountain, Tupper Lake, Garnet Hill… the whole megillah. In the end, common sense brought me back to earth. Follow the link to a short: