by John Patrick Schutz
What’s the connection between the Sochi Olympic Village and the Village of Nyack? Although no one from our village is competing at the games this year, our Olympic connection is strong, going back to the 1930’s both on the slopes and behind the scenes, too. Nyack Village Historian J.P. Schutz explains.
THE 1932 BEAR MOUNTAIN OLYMPIC GAMES. (Well, almost)
Just like today, the International Olympic Committee considered several possible locations for the ’32 Winter Games which were held in Lake Placid, New York. Those locations included Oslo (Norway), Montreal (Canada), Denver (Colorado) and Bear Mountain (Rockland County). Yep, Bear Mountain, just up 9W.
In the 1930’s Bear Mountain was the premier ski jumping site in the United States. Featuring the world-famous Bear Mountain Lodge (really, it was!), Rockland County’s state park almost got the nod for the games, losing out in the final round to Lake Placid. The Bear Mountain ski jump would continue to be used until 1990.
As a consolation prize, Bear Mountain became the spring training location for the Brooklyn Dodgers during World War II.
Where’s the tie to Nyack? Back in the day, the ultra-hip Bear Mountain Inn was managed by the father of Nyack’s former mayor, Terri Hekker.
A US WOMEN’S WINTER CHAMPION IS FROM HERE
Upper Nyack’s Katie Koczynski competed in the skeleton at the World Cup Championships in 2003, 2004, and 2005, finishing fourth at the Calgary World Cup in 2003. Though she did not compete in Turino in 2006, she did bring worldwide attention to the American Team and to our women sliders. All while maintaining a 3.8 GPA at Columbia University, remaining on the Dean’s List and graduating Cum Laude in Sociology in 2006.
At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, her then boyfriend Bill Demong – a Gold Medal winner in the 10 km large hill Nordic Combined, and a Silver Medal in the 4×5 km team Nordic Combined in Vancouver proposed to her in front of his teammates and coaches. Bill Demong is in Sochi trying to repeat, and his now wife Katie is rooting him on.
THE NBC OLYMPIC BROADCAST SET WAS DESIGNED HERE.
black walnut, a design company in Valley Cottage, is responsible for the spectacular NBC broadcast set at Sochi. Though one of the largest jobs they’ve ever done, they are not new to this kind of work. They describe themselves as “fabricators of scenic environments for television, exhibits, live events and theatre” – and they do a superb job, made evident by their Emmy Award winning status.
Along with NBC’s Sochi studios, they’ve also designed and fabricated other NBC News sets at 30 Rock, along with sets for Major League Baseball, Fox Sports, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Rock Center, The Weather Channel, and Cablevision’s Hudson Valley NewsChannel 12 studios.
John Patrick Schutz is the Nyack Village Historian and a realtor for Rand Realty in Nyack, NY. You can read his blog posts at AtHomeInNyack.
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