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Squaw Valley Resort, Host Of The 1960 Winter Games, To Drop Derogatory Word From Its Name

By Chrös McDougall | Aug. 25, 2020, 3:31 p.m. (ET)

 A skier leaves for the day at Squaw Valley Resort on March 14, 2020 in Olympic Valley, Calif,


The California resort where the U.S. men’s hockey team won its first Olympic gold medal in the 1960 “Forgotten Miracle” will be renamed after leadership determined its name includes a “derogatory and offensive” term.

Squaw Valley Resort, named for the valley west of Lake Tahoe in which it is located, said in June that it planned to review its name, specifically the first word, which is considered a racist and sexist slur to describe a Native American woman. The resort announced its decision to go ahead with the change Tuesday following “extensive research into the etymology and history” of the word, as well as consultation with the Washoe Tribe and other Native American and community groups.

A new name will be announced in early 2021.

“While we love our local history and the memories we all associate with this place as it has been named for so long, we are confronted with the overwhelming evidence that the term ‘squaw ’is offensive,” Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, said in a statement. “We have to accept that as much as we cherish the memories we associate with our resort name, that love does not justify continuing to use a term that is widely accepted to be a racist and sexist slur.”

The decision, which comes during a summer of national reckoning around structural and systemic racism, was welcome news for Darrel Cruz, the Washoe Tribe’s director of historic preservation. He told SFGATE, “It’s almost like a wound being healed once they remove that name.”

Though the valley’s name also included the derogatory term when the resort was founded in 1949, it was renamed Olympic Valley when the 1960 Winter Games were held there.

The 1960 Winter Games were the second of four held in the U.S., sandwiched between Olympics held in Lake Placid, New York, in 1932 and 1980. The Tahoe region, which also includes nearby Reno, Nevada, explored a bid for the 2030 Winter Games before withdrawing from consideration. Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Winter Games, is still considering a bid for 2030 or 2034.

Those 1960 Olympics are best remembered for the U.S. men’s hockey team that came back to upset Czechoslovakia in the opener and went on to survive a final three games against Canada, the heavily favored Soviets and Czechoslovakia again to win the gold medal. Because it took place in an era before wall-to-wall media coverage, the feat became known as the “Forgotten Miracle.”

The 1960 Olympics also marked the first time in Winter Games history that an Olympic Village was constructed for the athletes, as well as the Olympic debuts of biathlon and women’s speedskating.

“We will find a new name that reflects our core values, storied past, and respect for all those who have enjoyed this land,” Cohen’s statement continued. “While the resort name will change, this special place will always be the location of the 1960 Winter Olympics, the home of our beloved KT-22 chair lift, the place where extreme skiing pioneers changed the sport forever and the beloved mountain home for so many people who revere this amazing ski resort.”

Chrös McDougall

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.