Nordic Olympic Competitor Olavi Hirvonen Marks 50th Anniversary with Benefit at Lapland Lake

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Olympic Nordic Ski member Olavi Hirvonen, owner and operator of Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center, celebrates the 50th anniversary of his participation in the 1960 US Olympic Nordic Ski team on February 24th, 2010. In recognition of his participation, the Hirvonen family will donate half of the resorts' proceeds generated from all rentals and cross country ski lessons on Saturday, February 27, to the American Red Cross relief effort in Haiti.

“I was working seven days a week... Sometimes I would take Sunday afternoons off so I could train in the daylight…”

The 50th anniversary of Olavi Hirvonen’s participation in the 1960 Olympic Games as a member of the US Nordic Ski Team takes place this month, February, 2010. Now the owner of Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center in Benson NY, Hirvonen and his wife, Ann, will donate half of the resort’s proceeds generated from all rentals and cross country ski lessons on Saturday, February 27, the anniversary of Hirvonen’s participation in the 50km Nordic event, to the American Red Cross relief effort in Haiti.

Hirvonen came to the United States from Finland at the age of 18 where his love for the sport of Nordic skiing continued to grow. Eleven years later he was recognized as one of the best Nordic skiers in the country earning a slot competing with the best skiers in the world.

Olympic dreams are rarely without challenge, and Hirvonen’s experience was no exception. Never formally trained and supporting his family operating a ski lodge in Vermont, Hirvonen had only evenings to prepare for the trials. “I just wanted to make the team”, says Hirvonen. “I was working seven days a week...Sometimes I would take Sunday afternoons off so I could train in the daylight…”

In spite of the physical toll of the higher altitude in Colorado, Hirvonen made the US Olympic team with a second place finish in the tryouts. He competed in the VIII Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, California in both the 15 and 50-kilometer events.

Hirvonen’s accomplishments and passion for the sport led to yet another post-Olympic dream in 1978 – the purchase of property and subsequent founding of Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center in Benson, NY. Since then, Lapland Lake has become one of the most recognized Nordic centers in the country. There are 50 kilometers of trails at the resort, 38 of which are track set with skating lanes, most of which are one-way. Additionally, there are 12 kilometers of ungroomed, marked and mapped snowshoe trails.

Hirvonen has planned and constructed Lapland Lake’s trail network over the course of the past 32 years. Trails are meticulously groomed and maintained using a fleet of state-of-the-art equipment, including a newly purchased 2010 Prinoth Husky snowcat. Lapland Lake offers four-season lodging in private housekeeping cottages (called ‘tupas’). Junior tubing hills, ice-skating, illuminated trails for night skiing … even an authentic Finnish wood-burning sauna are available. Lunch and Saturday evening dinner service are offered at the Tuulen Tupa Grill during the winter season. Talvi and Viima are the resident reindeer.

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, BC fall on exactly the same dates as Hirvonen’s 50th anniversary of participation in Squaw Valley. By donating half of the resort’s proceeds generated from all rentals and cross country ski lessons at Lapland Lake in the Adirondacks on Saturday, February 27th 2010 to the American Red Cross relief effort, the Hirvonens hope to recognize this memorable event while supporting the earthquake victims of Haiti.

Olympic Nordic Ski member Olavi Hirvonen, owner and operator of Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center, celebrates the 50th anniversary of his participation in the 1960 US Olympic Nordic Ski team on February 24th, 2010.

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