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Lake Placid 1980 Torch Relay IOC

Route design and details

After the flame-lighting ceremony in Olympia, a relay takes it to Platanos (~6km) on foot, and it then travels by coach to Andravida airport and, finally, by plane to Athens. At midnight, the flame leaves Athens and is flown to Langley (Virginia, United States), with a stopover in Shannon, Ireland.

In the United States, the relay route was designed to retrace the American Revolution Bicentennial Trail. It started not far from where the first English settlers had landed in the New World, then passed through various sites of historical importance and big cities such as the capital, Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia.

On 31 January 1980, despite a heavy snowstorm, the flame reached American soil on schedule at the Langley military base in Virginia, in front of several thousand people.

On 6 February, the flame reached Albany. Here, the relay split in two: one route went west through the Adirondack Mountains, the other east up the Champlain valley.

On 8 February, the two flames were reunited at Lake Placid. A welcome ceremony was held at the speed skating stadium.

Lake Placid 1980 Relay route IOC

Start date: 30 January 1980, Olympia (Greece)
End date: 13 February 1980, Opening Ceremony Stadium, Lake Placid (United States)
First torchbearer: Giorgos Gikas
Last torchbearers: Dr Charles Morgan Kerr, psychiatrist, University of Arizona
Number of torchbearers: 52 in the United States
Recruitment of torchbearers: For the relay on American soil, the Organising Committee chose 26 men and 26 women from over 6,000 applicants. The torchbearers came from every state of the United States, the District of Columbia and Lake Placid.
Each carried the flame many times during the course of the 1,600-km national relay.
Distance: 12,824 km of which 1,600 km comprised the national relay in the United States.
Countries visited: Greece, United States
Lake Placid 1980 Torch IOC Description: The torch design and materials symbolised a blend of modern technology and a reference to Ancient Greece.
The torch was shaped like a bowl with a silver ring. It bore the Games emblem and the inscription XIII Olympic Winter Games Lake Placid 1980. The handle was made of leather.
Colour: Bronze
Length: 72.5 cm
Composition: Leather and metal
Fuel: Liquid propane. Burning time: 40 minutes.
Designer / Manufacturer: Don McFarland; McFarland Design / Cleanweld Turner

Did you know?

  • The main cauldron was mobile and was placed at the top of a 16-metre tower, so that it could be seen from the various competition venues.
  • A secret vote between the 52 torchbearers resulted in Dr Charles M. Kerr being chosen to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony.
  • During the Games, some of the medal ceremonies were held at Mirror Lake. The Olympic flame was present in the form of torches held by bearers lining the path leading to the pavilion built on the frozen surface of the lake.
  • The Closing Ceremony was held in a different stadium from that used for the opening. For this occasion, the Olympic flame was burning in a cauldron suspended from the ceiling of the Olympic Centre International Ice Rink. Towards the end of the Ceremony, this flame was extinguished at the same moment as that in the main cauldron three kilometres away.

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