Tom Hanrahan's hands are shaking and he just took up cigarettes again after 10 years without.
Hanrahan is running tours for the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee. That is, when he's not giving Olympic speeches around the countryside.
"I thought I could help LPOOC with the finances, with my background," he said. "But somewhere in the resume I put down something about once teaching a speech class.
"They saw that word, speech..."
Welcome to Lake Placid, the pressure cooker in the Adirondacks where things are cooker in the Adirondacks where things are done in a hurry, not always by the right person.
This week it's the World Cup ski races, with the best racers in the world in town, 200 of them from 21 countries.
With every team comes a contingent of news-hungry journalists and hangers-on who don't speak too good the English.
Hanrahan ends up squiring them around in a van.
"I had the Italians yesterday, 14 of them at once, and no interpreter. The minute I stopped anywhere, they were gone in every direction. I was coming around a curve here and the door flew open. I looked back and this lunatic is hanging out the door with his camera, taking a picture. I don't know how he stayed in."
There are 150 or so people like Hanrahan working for the LPOOC this week. They all have wild tales to tell as Lake Placid barrels through its dry dun for next year's Olympics.
It's called, "The Olympics in Perspective," because where Innsbruck spent $400 million in 1976 and Sapporo, Japan, spent $700 million in 1972, Lake Placid is trying to get by with an outlay of $150 million.
Two-thirds of that goes to building the sports sites and athletes' housing most of which are finished.
That leaves $50 million for administrative costs, and the cost-conscious new general manager, Petr Spurney, wants to knock another $5 million or more out of that.
That's how local folks like Hanrahan come to be giving tours to overcrowded buses full of people who don't speak any language he does.
Ah, but this is all in preparation for the Games, and the Games know no language. And they are going very well indeed.
Last month, the Nordic leg of the Olympic disciplines underwent its test here. Athletes visited the twin sculptures that loom over the valley two miles outside town. They pronounced the huge and graceful ski jumps -- 70 and 90 meters -- as the best in the world.
The cross-country skiers plodded along Mt. Van Hoevenberg six miles from town in weather that was downright frightening.
"We had an interview with the winner after one race. He was very cooperative," said one newsman, "but we had to wait until his left eye thawed open."
It was 30 below, it got worse than that some mornings.But the skiers left happy.
The luge specialists, madmen who lie down on sleds the size of TV trays and race along at 60 miles an hour on their backs, liked Placid's brand-new luge run, built entirely by people who never saw a luge run before.
The refrigerated bobsled run is coming along and should be done this week, in time for its initiation next weekend.
The hockey rink is due for completion next summer, but how can you mess up a hockey rink?
In short, Lake Placid has been jumping.
Now come the downhillers, the psychedout superstars of winter sports, descending on Whiteface Mountain, which lies nine miles outside town along a two-lane country road.
For years, the skiing world has regarded Whiteface as unskiable. They felt that way because it has the steepest vertical drop in the East, and the worst of that drop is directly exposed to the fiercest of winter storms from the north.
Most of the winter, the trails at the peak are sheer blue ice.
"Blue ice?" say the downhillers. "Far out."
Downhill racing is in three disciplines. There is the slalom, performed on a tight, short course through carefully placed gates. Here the emphasis is on technique and not hell-bent-for-leather speed.
Then there's the giant slalom, which is longer and looser than slalom but still puts a premium on control.
And finally comes plain old downhill, where the first one to the line is the one with the big smile, regardless of how he or she gets there.
The downhillers are winter sports' popular gladiators. The crowds, small though they are here, gather at the finish for them. They clamor for Franz Klammer and marvel at the Mahres, Phil and Steve. They wait for autographs from Cindy Nelson and Annemarie Moser-Proell.
After they shed their slick, shiny, skintight racing suits, the steely-eyed downhillers turn out to be kids. On the mountain, they know no age.
Andy Mill, an American, is fading into obscurity. He has had six knee operations, two broken legs and a broken arm in his career. He hopes only to make it through to next year, to compete once more in the Olympics, then get out.
He's an old man at 25.
Lake Placid is a twosided place. On the north shore of the snow-covered lake is the visage of the grand old town -- the glittering Lake Placid Hotel Resort. Until a few years ago, it was the exclusive, private Lake Placid Club.
It is immense, with room for more than 1,000 people. It is old and dark and smells of warming fires, good food and good wood.
The athletes are staying there, and they are contented.
On the other side of the lake, is the new Lake Placid, the village that sought the Olympics as a way to ease the burdens of 15 percent unemployment, a declining economy.
On Main Street the buildings are ramshackle. Paint peels from sagging wooden structures, the new motels are shouldered in, cluttering access to the lakeshore. It's saving grace is the occasional view across the lake, to "the club," as it's called, with its outlines ringed in gentle lights.
The value of property in and around the village has taken on an unreal character. There are reports here of residents offering to rent their homes to visitors to the '80 games for sums running to $60,000 a month.
"What is exorbitant?" asked realtor Jack Wilkins in an interview with United Press International. He acknowledged that he had rented one private home with about 15 bedrooms for between $40,000 and $50,000. "I've been to a lot of Olympics," he said. "And the pressure for space is going to be greatest here, first because the Games are being held in the United States and second because it's just about the smallest place you can hold an Olympics at."
The people who are making the 1979 pre-Olympics work, as much as anyone, are the clones. They pick up the lose ends that 150 Hanrahans can't control.
The clones are volunteers, 800 of them on duty now, who man the slopes, run the information centers, line up transportation for the crowds.
The voluneered this year because it means a role in next year's drama. Many are using vacation time and have come from distant cities.
They are identified by their blue ski suits, which they receive when they arrive and turn back to the Olympic committee when their stint is done.
The clones are everywhere and they are always helpful.
They even can laugh at themselves.
Everywhere there are clone jokes. Thousands of them. Rusty Rodriguez is collecting them. He wears a clone sign identifying himself as "press interface."
"Aside from Clonecticut," he asks, "what is the clones' favorite state?"
"Texas," he answers.
"The Clone Star State."