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Friday, August 20, 2010

Lausanne and The International Olympic Museum

Since Doug's knee injury is more severe than we thought, we needed some alternatives to hiking around the mountains.  I have a close Swiss friend from our church who lives in Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva and she had given me some information about Lausanne so we decided to head on down the road and see this little bit of paradise.  The drive was beautiful, of course and Lake Geneva is indeed impressive.  It was a hazy day so the views weren't quite as spectacular as I think they could be but still...what's there not to like about a lake-front drive and a little Swiss city that sits upon it.  We drove past Montreux, the site made famous by Deep Purple's song, Smoke on the Water, which was very popular when I was in Jr. High.  It was THE quintessential dance number at our dances and it was fun to bring the song to mind as we zipped past the place that inspired the song.
Lausanne is hilly which created some challenges for Doug but he did quite well.  The International Olympic museum is located here as is the committee headquarters and so we decided to visit the museum.  We took the most roundabout path to arriving as we took a wrong turn, that took us up hill, realized we had to go downhill, somehow got stuck on the grounds of an amazing hotel and couldn't get out...finally, after much up and down (poor Doug) we made it to the lake front and found the museum.
We are both huge sports fans and I have always been quite attached to the Olympics.  I have cleared my schedule during the 2 weeks that the summer and winter Olympics occur every 4 years and revel in every minute.  Living in Europe has opened up a whole new interest in the winter games and I have to say, the European television coverage is still about the games and not the commercials so I love watching the games while in Europe.  It was kind of thrilling and even a little moving as we entered the doors.  Just outside of the entrance sits a high jump pole set at the height of the men's world record.  This is Doug standing underneath it!  The orange arrows on the side of the outside poles indicates the women's height.  IMPRESSIVE.  The tour starts with a display of all of the torches that have been used in the various Olympic games.  I loved this.  (photos were not allowed inside the museum.)  It was so cool to see the various designs and read about who the last person was that carried it in the different games, to remember the various opening ceremonies and the impressive manner in which the torch was lit.  Remember Barcelona, when the archer launched the arrow into the air and landed it in the cauldron?  Still remains a favorite of mine.
The museum took you through a history of the games, how they came about, what they stand for, and showed the various cities who had hosted.  Stockholm hosted way back in 1912 and that stadium is quite close to our house and still houses sporting events and concerts.  When the summer games were held in Melbourne in 1956, due to strict animal import laws, the equestrian events were held in Stockholm.  I never knew that.  It's fun to learn new stuff.  After walking through the cities and highlights of the various games, the upper level took you through fine displays of equipment and uniforms that had been used through the years.  This was cool.  The spikes on the old track shoes are super long.  The gymnasts suits are really tiny.  Some of the athletes have huge feet.  It was fun to see the shoes of various athletes on display and remember their moments of glory.  I was most impressed by the shoes of an American volleyball player, Tara Cross-Battle who was part of the bronze metal team in Barcelona.  When I first saw them, I for sure thought they belonged to a male basketball player and upon further inspection realized they were Tara's!  I did a double take because they were so big and so heavy.  Very different looking from the shoes I wore in college when I played.  I put my foot up against the shoe...it was half again as large as mine!  She was some player...a big hitter for the American squad and it was fun to see her shoes!  The various shapes and sizes of skies, poles, racquets, luges, bobsleds and uniforms was really special.
We had a great time remembering our favorite Olympic moments and thinking about how much fun it is to be an athlete and a fan.