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Olympic memories reach back 50 years

Auburn's Hamilton saw firsthand in '60,son later won bronze
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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A half-century-old hockey puck and stick re-ignited the memories of a thrilling moment this week. The puck is from the USA win over the USSR during the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics, and the stick is from the USA’s gold-medal won over Czechoslovakia. Gary Judd, who pulled the items out of the ice rink after each game, is loaning them to the Squaw Valley Ski Museum Foundation for the 50-year celebration of the Olympics being held Jan. 8-17. Judd and Dick Hamilton, Auburn Ski Club president and Squaw Valley Ski Museum Foundation board member, both worked at the Games that winter. “Everyone at Sierra College had jobs there,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “(Judd) was an usher at the ice arena and was right at the railing. When the USA beat the Russian team, he jumped on the ice. He and another friend were sliding across the ice and Judd got the puck.” Judd was there again as an usher for the gold medal competition and rushed out to grab one of the hockey sticks after the USA win. “He just jumped over the railing and was able to get the stick,” Hamilton said. “(The players) just threw their sticks. Everything scattered.” Judd, who kept the two special souvenirs on a mantel at his vacation cabin for many years, said Wednesday he’d never seen a hockey game until that time. But he got caught up in the fever of the competition. “The cause of the buildup was because the Russians had played together and were more like professionals,” he explained. “We were just a group of amateurs playing together. (Everyone was thinking), “what would it be like for the little team to beat the mighty giants? That’s why it was so exciting.” Judd and fellow usher Max Miller’s slide onto the ice rink was captured by news cameras filming the Olympics and before 1980, was aired before every USA Olympic hockey game, he said. The clip is now available on youtube. Judd later became a track and cross-country coach at Sierra College, retiring in 2002. Miller successfully coached football for years at Cordova High School in Sacramento. “We had a lot of fun,” Judd said about working at the 1960 Games. “At that moment, you forget you were only 19 then.” Hamilton, an Auburn resident who has been a member of the Auburn Ski Club since 1957 and skied for Sierra College, worked on area control for the 1960 Olympics. “I worked at different venues so I could be at all the events I wanted to see,” he said. As a ski jumper, the ski-jumping events were high on his list. Hamilton also viewed alpine, slalom and downhill skiing, and some ice-hockey events. At the same time, working area control presented some challenges. “People would climb the poles and pull the flags down,” Hamilton said. “It was memorable. Things were gone as fast as they could put them up.” As it turned out, Hamilton would garner even more special Olympic memories. Thirty-two years later, his son, Jeff Hamilton, won a bronze medal as a speed skier in the XVI Winter Games at Albertville, France in 1992. “It was a demonstration sport at that time,” Dick Hamilton said. “They didn’t put it into the Olympics (at the next winter games) in Lillehammer (Norway).” Jeff Hamilton, who learned to ski as a member of the Auburn Ski Club at Boreal, also won four World Cups and was the first to ski more than 150 mph, his father said. The only other Auburn Ski Club member to compete in a Winter Olympics was Roy Mikkelson, who was a ski jumper in 1936 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, but didn’t medal, Dick Hamilton said. Jeff Hamilton, now with Chase International real estate in Truckee, will be sitting at the honorees’ table at the Olympic Legends Gala Jan. 16 at the Resort at Squaw Creek. The puck and stick will be on view during the 10-day celebration at a special temporary ski museum foundation exhibit at Squaw Valley. The exhibit will also have photographs, posters and other memorabilia from the 1960 Olympics. The Olympic Heritage Celebration runs from Jan. 8 through 17 with numerous activities each day. For a calendar of events, see SquawValley1960celebration.com Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.