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Fans witness podium first as curtain draws on Lake Placid

Medallists on the podium IOC
13 Feb 1932
Lake Placid 1932, Olympic News

The Closing Ceremony of the Lake Placid Games was held at the Olympic Stadium on 13 February 1932, in the wake of the final piece of competitive action, the exciting and tightly contested de facto final between the Canadian and US ice hockey teams.

A major innovation was then introduced to the fans: the staggered three-step podium that is still used today. The Olympic champion stood in the centre on the highest level, with the silver medallist on the right and the bronze medallist on the left. All athletes who had earned a top-three finish, with the exception of the speed skaters (who had already received their medals), were awarded their medals from IOC President Henri de Baillet-Latour, American Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage and III Olympic Winter Games Committee President Godfrey Dewey, in front of 6,000 spectators who had made the short journey from the Olympic arena after the hockey game.

Medallists on the podium - Swimming, Women's 100 metres Freestyle IOC

All in all, organisers estimated that some 100,000 fans attended the Games, calculated from ticket sales and from the size of the crowds that thronged around the bobsleigh track and ski jump, which were put at around 10,000. Moreover, due to the comprehensive radio and written press coverage, the entire country was able to follow events and keep up with results.

“To others will be passed the banner of Winter Sports. May it be held proudly aloft. May other resorts rally around the standard which we have carried for three years to the best of our collective abilities,” concluded the official report of the Lake Placid Games.

“May winter sports come to stand primarily not for the enervating relaxations of warmer climes, but rather for those sports which winter alone makes possible, especially the sports on the Olympic programme – ski running and jumping, speed and figure skating, bobsleigh and curling.

“May the development of these sports and the facilities necessary for their enjoyment continue in the years ahead to the advantage of those communities sponsoring them and to the better health of a great nation.

“It is our hope that through the holding of the III Olympic Winter Games of 1932 in the United States the general interest and participation in winter sports on this side of the Atlantic will be set forward by at least a decade, if not a generation. Our part has been done. May the example of the Games carry on where we leave off.”

Medallists on the podium - Athletics, Men's Marathon IOC

The excitement of Lake Placid 1932 would be reproduced later that year at the Summer Games, which were declared open in Los Angeles on 30 July. As for the Winter Games, they returned to Lake Placid 48 years later, for the XIII Games in 1980, during which many of the facilities built in 1932 – completely renovated for the occasion – were used again. Jack Shea, a hero of the 1932 Winter Games, would also play an integral part in the Games’ return to his home town, almost half a century later.

Medallists on the podium - Athletics, 100m Hommes IOC
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