Olympic legacy not forgotten

Exhibit ensures 1960 Winter Olympics heritage doesn’t fade
By: Eileen Wilson Granite Bay View Correspondent
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Tahoe Museum

What: Exhibit features Squaw Valley 1960 Winter Olympics memorabilia

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, May through 2018

Where: Boatworks Mall, 760 N. Lake Blvd., Tahoe City

Cost: Free


Ski season has ended, but at the new Tahoe Museum, featuring 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics memorabilia in Tahoe City, ski history has never been cooler.

Granite Bay resident Stan Batiste had a dream — not to win Olympic gold, but to gather Olympic artifacts that he would someday place on display in a Tahoe home he had built.

Fast forward a decade and he realized he had gathered some special items. Fast forward two decades and he realized he had a comprehensive, museum-worthy collection that he wanted to share.

Though there is a lot of community support, for now, a permanent museum remains just a dream. But a temporary one is opening in May, thanks to Stan Batiste. The exhibit inhabits the former bookstore in Tahoe City’s Boatworks Mall through 2018.

“This was such an important event that happened in the area. It’s important that this heritage isn’t lost,” said Ba-iste’s wife, Maryann.

Some may find it hard to believe there isn’t already a permanent Olympics museum in the area.

“The Squaw Valley Ski Museum Foundation has been trying for years to build a world-class museum at the entrance to Squaw Valley,” Stan Batiste said. “Hopefully, our combined efforts with the museum foundation and others will help to move the project forward.”

Batiste wanted to shed light on the 1960 Winter Olympics, an important event in skiing history and California history, alike.

“Our Olympics museum in Tahoe City will be a journey from the beginning of skiing through the Olympics, and will include contemporary skiing overall,” he said.

Batiste has a special connection to the mountainous area. His dad built a cabin in Tahoe in 1957 and his family spent their summers near Tahoe City.

The late 1950s in Squaw Valley was nothing like it is today. It took two families — one that owned the valley floor and one that owned the mountain — to come together to create the massive ski area.

According to Batiste, through the genius of one man, the Olympics were awarded to Squaw Valley when the ski area included only one chair lift and a dirt road. With the state of California stepping in with funding and Walt Disney offering his genius to design the project, the Squaw Valley Olympics was a resounding success.

The Batistes’ museum recently hosted a soft opening, which was a special day for Maryann.

“It really impressed me how much the locals appreciated having these artifacts displayed,” she said. “The people who were in the area at the time — the display just meant so much to them. They were so happy to see the artifacts come back to Tahoe City.”

The exhibit includes rarely seen concept drawings by Disney, photographs by renowned photographer Bill Briner and hundreds of Olympic items, as well as historic ski memorabilia from the Auburn Ski Club, Squaw Valley Olympic Museum Foundation, the foundation’s board President Bill Clark and the Squaw Valley Ski Corporation.

Stan Batiste said the exhibit wouldn’t have come together without the help of author and friend David C. Antonucci, a Lake Tahoe historian who located the original Olympic cross-country ski trails and wrote what’s considered the foremost book on the 1960 Winter Olympics, “Snowball’s Chance: The Story of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe.”