Five Rings, Six States: New England Skiers in the Winter Olympics is on display the New England Ski Museum through the coming winter. The show runs through the end of March.
More than 140 New Englanders have represented the U.S. in the Winter Olympics in skiing and snowboarding since winter events were first held in Chamonix, France in 1924.
Jeff Leich, executive director of the Museum, said the exhibit profiles the contributions of many Winter Olympians from the region in every Olympiad from 1924 through the 2010 Vancouver Games.
"The Olympics are the highest profile ski racing event, no matter how much the ski racing world may think the World Cup is equally important, in the eyes of the general public the Olympics are the pinnacle. The Olympics are when casual viewers tune in to ski racing," Leich told OnTheSnow.com.
Little surprise here, given the Museum's location in Franconia Notch, N.H., but the most popular items on display are the five Olympic medals won by Bode Miller. Miller is from Franconia, and skied at Cannon Mountain.
Miller won two silver medals in 2002 at Salt Lake City, and three medals, one gold, one silver and one bronze, in Vancouver this past winter. Miller is the only New England alpine skier to have participated in four Winter Games.
Leich said the U.S. Olympic Team team gave a notable performance, mostly forgotten today, at the 1952 Games in Oslo, Norway. There, Andrea Mead Lawrence of Rutland, Vt., won gold medals in slalom and giant slalom, Imogene Opton of North Conway, N.H., was fifth in slalom, Bill Beck of Kingston, R.I., took fifth in downhill, and Brooks Dodge of Jackson, N.H., was sixth in giant slalom.
Penny Pitou of Gilford, N.H., won silver in downhill and giant slalom in a later double-medal performance in 1960 at Squaw Valley, Calif., Leich said.
Recently New Englanders have found Olympic success in freestyle and snowboard events rather than alpine skiing, with the notable exception of Bode, Leich said. Freestylers Nikki Stone and Hannah Kearney both won gold, Stone in 1998 and Kearney in 2010, while Ross Powers, Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter and Seth Wescott all have won gold in various snowboard events.
Leich said the New England Ski Museum has many other items relating to the history of alpine skiing and riding in the region. A new item not related to the Olympic exhibit is a ceremonial sword and sheath presented to the civilian father of the 10th Mountain Division, Charles M. "Minnie" Dole, by the commanding general of the 10th, George S. Hays, in appreciation of his creation of the unique mountain military unit.
Soldiers of the 10th found the sword in an Italian villa belonging to former dictator Benito Mussolini at the close of hostilities in 1945. The sword is said to have been obtained on behalf of Mussolini when Italy occupied Ethiopia in the mid-1930s. The Museum's mission recognizes the relevance of the 10th Mountain Division for their impact on the development of skiing.
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