1960 Olympics in Lake Tahoe

On Thursday, February 18, 1960, under storm-threatening skies, the greatest winter athletes in the world gathered in Squaw Valley. As the sun broke through briefly, 2,000 pigeons were released into the air. A throng of 1,000 competitors and 20,000 spectators stood hushed as the Olympic Torch completed a 9,000 mile odyssey from Europe and was placed in front of the Tower of Nations. Following the Olympic Oath and the Star Spangled Banner, Avery Brundage declared the Games "open" while the sky erupted into a kaleidoscope of fireworks and colorful balloons. Thus began the VIII Olympic Winter Games at Squaw Valley.

At that time the 1960 Winter Games were the largest ever held, with 34 nations competing in 15 alpine and ski jumping events, 8 speed skiing contests, 3 figure skating competitions and 28 hockey matches. Making its Olympic debut was women's speed skiing and the men's biathlon, a combination of Nordic skiing and rifle marksmanship.

The Squaw Games were highlighted by many other Winter Olympic 'firsts'. They were the first Winter Games to be nationally televised and to house the athletes in their own Olympic Village. For the first time in Winter Olympic history artificial refrigeration was utilized for speed skating events and electronic computers were used to tally results.

The VIII Winter Olympics propelled Squaw Valley into the world spotlight and spurred a tremendous growth in winter sports - especially alpine skiing. In 1960 Squaw Valley had four double chair lifts and a rope tow. Today Squaw Valley boasts a network of 32 lifts - one of the largest in the country - including an aerial Cable Car and a Super Gondola. With 8300 acres of terrain, sophisticated grooming and ultra-modern facilities, Squaw Valley has remained at the forefront of the industry, just as it did back in 1960.


  • The Opening and Closing Ceremonies were orchestrated by none other than Walt Disney, and involved 5,000 participants, 1285 instruments and 2,645 voices from 52 California and Nevada high school bands.
  • The Tower of Nations, now located at the entrance of the valley, stands 79 feet tall and 29 feet wide. Crowned with the five Olympic rings, each eight feet in diameter, it displays the crests of all the competing nations. The five rings represent the five continents and are linked to signify friendship and sportsmanship.
  • Nearly one-half million spectators watched the Games. Lodging costs were $5 to $10 per night per person.
  • Daily admission, which allowed a spectator to see five major events cost $7.50. An 11-day pass for all skiing events was $60, and a reserved seat at Blyth Arena was $200.
  • Squaw Valley had 20 feet of snow prior to the Games, but a massive rain washed most of it away. However, Mother Nature came to the rescue in the nick of time, dumping 12 feet on Squaw just before the start of the Games. Local military troops boot-packed the slopes.
  • What did it take to feed 1,000 Olympians? How about 6,600 lbs. of prime rib, 3,200 lbs. of top sirloin, 4,500 lbs. of ground beef, 1,600 lbs. of roast beef, 1,800 lbs. of stew meat and 1,500 lbs. of liver. In all, over 10 tons of meat!
  • In the first "Miracle on Ice" an unsung U.S. Hockey Team stunned a highly-favored Soviet squad 3-2 and then overwhelmed Czechoslovakia 9-4 to capture its first-ever gold medal. Twenty years later at Lake Placid, history repeated itself.
  • Frenchman Jean Vuarnet, now well-known as the namesake for a popular sun glass company, won the men's downhill. Penny Pitou, from Laconia, New Hampshire, captured the silver medals in the women's downhill and giant slalom to emerge as America's top alpine performer.
  • http://www.tahoecountry.com/oldtimetahoe/olympics.html

The saga of the VIII Olympic Winter Games is a lasting tribute to the daring and vision of Alexander C. Cushing, the founder and Chairman of the Board of Squaw Valley Ski Corporation. In 1955 Alex startled the international sporting community by bidding for and then receiving the 1960 Winter Olympics - even though at the time Squaw Valley was a fledgling resort and virtually unknown outside the state of California. His boldness paid off with one of the most successful and efficient Winter Games ever held.

Today, Squaw Valley has emerged into the ski resort of the 21st century and one of the premier areas in the world. The driving force behind Squaw Valley's rise to the top is the same man who made an Olympic dream a reality, Alexander C. Cushing.

Photos and information courtesy Squaw Valley USA