Skip to main content
Original Issue

Fire on Little Papoose

From the hearth of a little Norwegian cottage, where once lived Sondre Norheim (1825-97), father of modern skiing and Norway's first famous skier, came the flame that this week signaled the opening of the 1960 Winter Olympics. And 13 years ago, from far-off China, came the celebrated artist Chen Chi, who painted the scenes on the following pages. For his magnificent blue surface surrounding the flame on its approach to the Olympic caldron, Chen took a piece of fine silk, dipped it in blue dye and wrung it out like a wet sock. Water then eliminated color where color was not wanted. Details were painted in by brush. Chen did his preliminary sketches from a precipitous ledge. There was no snow then, but the style and manner of Chinese painting allow for, actually call for, imaginative treatment. Even so, Chen's depiction of Squaw Valley is accurate. The painting at right shows Andrea Mead Lawrence, former Olympic champion, carrying the flame down the steep slope of Little Papoose Peak, and behind her an honor guard of torch-bearing skiers. At the bottom Mrs. Lawrence will pass the flame to an ice skater waiting to circle the speed-skating rink before her torch at last lights the Olympic caldron, while chimes ring out from the surrounding mountains and the assembled athletes take the Olympic Oath.

Pageantry of VIII Winter Olympics opened with wonderful display of flaming firebrands winding down slope of mountains overlooking Squaw Valley

The sweep of the Olympic theater at Squaw Valley starts atop massive Squaw Peak (left), whose slopes descend beneath dark pines on KT-22. On the valley floor a wet, glistening road leads from the Olympic Village past the ice arena and out of the valley