Media Life: Search for Placer County Olympics artifacts leads to puck mystery

Two potential Squaw Valley hockey icons from 1960 turn up; Auburn’s Stephanie Eastman has key role in buzzworthy short film; Dick Dale tickets for Auburn show a sell-out
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A news story last week on Squaw Valley’s 1960 Olympic Games anniversary celebration next month highlighted the possibility that a puck from the big U.S. hockey win over the Soviet Union could be making its way from the Midwest for display. Former Auburn resident Bill Clark, executive director of the Auburn Ski Club and Western Ski Sport Museum at Boreal Ridge, discovered soon afterward that there are two of the potentially hallowed pucks floating around. With the pursuit of the Midwest puck in full swing, Clark received an intriguing phone call from former Auburnite Gary Judd. Judd, who graduated from Placer High in 1958, was an usher during the 1960 Olympics assigned to the outdoor Blyth Arena. In between keeping people moving to their seats and trying to stay warm in sub-freezing temperatures, Judd was able to catch glimpses of Carol Heiss figure skating to the gold medal in women’s competition, the 3-2 win by the U.S. hockey team over the Soviets, and the final gold-medal game won by the U.S. team over Czechoslovakia. Judd and a Sierra College buddy, Max Miller, scrambled onto the ice after the miracle win over the seemingly unbeatable U.S.S.R. team. Judd, now a Sacramento-area resident, said he was able to retrieve the puck in the excitement of the moment and he’s kept it in a safe place all these years. Judd went on to coach and teach at Sierra College while Miller established a legendary football program at Cordova High School. Miller also snagged a souvenir – a goalie stick – but it seems to have not survived the test of time. Caught on film Until 1980’s Miracle on Ice gold-medal winners at the Lake Placid, N.Y., U.S. hockey’s miracle team were the 1960 Olympians. Judd said that he and Miller would have a laugh whenever the team would get some recognition because invariably, footage would include the shot of the U.S. team’s celebration. The two can be seen sliding on the ice in the foreground, two youngsters awash in a momentous sports triumph. Judd is soon standing and running back to the stands, his hand waving the souvenir puck triumphantly. 1960’s souvenir is 2010’s icon. While Judd was a little hazy on details, a check of YouTube videos from the Squaw Valley Olympics quickly turned up the puck-snaring clip. A cross-reference with another video from the gold medal game showed the Americans wearing different colors in each match and the Czech team wearing dark uniforms in the gold-medal game. The Americans were wearing dark blue in the Soviet Union game. That’s the game Judd and Miller can be seen in. Who’s got the iconic puck? As Bill Clark points out, this may be a job for PBS’s “History Detectives” to sort out. But the early evidence points toward Judd’s having the Olympic pedigree. And maybe that puck in the Midwest was from the gold medal game. Little film goes big A little movie with a big heart shot on HD video by a crew that included several students from Southern California’s private Biola University is getting some high-profile film industry buzz. And Auburnite Stephanie Eastman, a Biola student and second assistant director on the film, is on the receiving end of an unexpected early look at what could become a career. Titled “Jitensha,” the film highlights a tale of suffering and redemption for an unemployed man whose bicycle (the “jitensha” of the title) starts disappearing piece by piece. Studying film production and business, Eastman was part of the “Jitensha” entourage that traveled to the prestigious Venice Film Festival in September. The short subject film was one of 27 selected from 1,600 submissions. Now the film and its filmmakers have been invited to the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival in France, which is considered the top festival in the world for shorts. If the Eastman name is more familiar to you from the world of high school distance running, you’re on the right track. Stephanie is the sister of Placer High’s state cross-country champion Stuart Eastman. Tickets at a premium It turns out the Auburn is Dick Dale country. The king of the surf guitar arrives Saturday for a show at the Auburn Event Center and impresario Scott Holbrook of Keep Smilin’ Productions is happy to announce that it will be a full house. The last tickets were snapped up late this week. That means an estimated 300 to 400 aficionados of Dale’s unique guitar sound will be in for a rare appearance in these parts by a Southern California rock legend. In fact, Dale’s visit is a first to Auburn. Local surfer dudes The Pyronauts open the show. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at 530-852-0232 or