Tahoe’s Winter Olympics | Ski museum to celebrate Olympic, ski history

Tahoe’s Olympic legacy and ski history of the Sierra Nevada will find a home under one roof in the new 1960 Winter Olympics Ski Museum to open in 2020 at the entrance to Olympic Valley. The world-class facility will focus on the 1960 Winter Olympics, as well as the fascinating and ground-breaking ski history of the Sierra Nevada.

Courtesy Bill Briner

But first the proposed site must be approved, the building and grounds need to be designed, and a whole lot of money needs to be raised to make it a reality. The Squaw Valley Ski Museum Foundation (SVSMF) and its new executive director, Sandy Chio, are working hard to make it happen.

The Foundation is working now to seek approval to build the museum at the Squaw Valley Park located on the south side of Squaw Valley Road. The park currently includes ball fields, a playground, restrooms, pickleball courts and parking. The bike trail also passes through the park.

“After extensive review of many sites in Olympic Valley and in North Lake Tahoe, the Squaw Valley Park location offers the greatest opportunity for a successful and sustainable Olympic legacy and ski culture museum. The top reasons include its visibility and convenient access from Highway 89 and an already established regional user base that complements the visitors the museum would likely draw,” said David Antonucci, SVSMF board president.

The world-class facility will focus on the 1960 Winter Olympics, as well as the fascinating and ground-breaking ski history of the Sierra Nevada.

The hope is that the museum will enhance the park and provide a year-round amenity for those visiting Olympic Valley. Over the next several months, the foundation will be going through the Placer County planning process, which will include public hearings.

The Foundation needs funds to get the museum through the planning and design process and SVSMF is seeking individual donations, corporate sponsorships, and private and public sector grants. The project needs to raise $250,000 this winter to complete the environmental documentation and develop the groundwork for a more extensive campaign to build the facility.

The museum will have three main sections when completed, says Chio. The Olympic Legacy section will focus on the power and majesty of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

“There are so many ways to bring the stories to life,” said Chio. The exhibit will include a variety of Olympic-era photos and souvenirs, including a collection that is on display at the Museum of Sierra Ski History & the 1960 Winter Games, currently headquartered in the Boatworks Mall in Tahoe City.

A Western Ski History section will focus on the ski heritage of the Sierra from the longboard races of the northern Sierra, to ski pioneers such as Snowshoe Thompson, who delivered mail across the Sierra. A major component of this section will be Auburn Ski Club’s extensive collection at the Western Ski Sport Museum at Boreal Mountain Resort, which will be transferred to the Olympic Valley venue once construction is complete. (See Sightseeing for details on the museums.)

Finally, a Western Winter Sports Hall of Fame section will be a Northern California/Northern Nevada snow sports Hall of Fame. The Sierra has been home to a long list of ski-industry heroes and Olympic champions who will be recognized and honored.

For more information or to donate, visit olympicskimuseum.com.