Perhaps Lausanne's biggest claim to fame is that it is the "Capitale Olympique", and home to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Museum. The museum has recently reopened after nearly 2 years of renovation and expansion, and admission is currently FREE. Given this, and the fact that Marcelo is a bit of an Olympic trivia buff, we went to check it out yesterday. We really enjoyed our visit to the museum, and would highly recommend it to anyone with a day or two to spend in Lausanne.
I must admit, I came away feeling a bit embarrassed about how little I knew about the Olympics. Here are ten highlights and tidbits from my visit:
- In Ancient Greece, the Olympics were more about the spirit of competition and artistic expression, rather than strictly sport. I suppose, based on this, I can accept the argument for chess as an Olympic game.
- Hands down, my favorite memorabilia item to see was Jim Craig's signed U.S. hockey jersey and stick from the 1980 USA vs USSR hockey match. Miracle on Ice, anyone?
- While I am certainly familiar with the phrase, I didn't realize that "Faster, Higher, Stronger"was the official Olympic motto, introduced at the 1924 Paris Olympics. The motto was chosen because Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, felt that the words "represent a programme of moral beauty".
- The sculpture American Athlete, by Rodin is featured at the museum. Truth be told I missed the sculpture, and only learned that it was there after the fact, but I will definitely be going back to the museum to see this.
- Today the Games last for 16 days, though in antiquity they lasted for only 5. The longest Olympics, held in London in 1908, included both winter and summer games, and lasted for 6 months.
- Tug-of-war used to be an Olympic sport.
- "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." - The Olympic Creed (I dedicate this quote to Marshmallow as he begins his IMD experience!)
- As in Ancient Greece, the Olympic torch is still lit by the sun's rays using a parabolic mirror.
- Figure skating used to entail skating and creating designs in the ice with your skates. The pretty costumes and white ice skates were not a part of the sport until introduced in the 1930s by Sonja Henie, a Norwegian Olympian and movie star.
- And last but not least, seeing the great (and Swiss) Roger Federer's signed racket was another not-to-be-missed item at the museum.