In Lake Placid, an Olympic Miracle from 40 Years Ago Still Inspires

  

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Via:  xdm9mm  •  7 months ago  •  41 comments

In Lake Placid, an Olympic Miracle from 40 Years Ago Still Inspires
Feb. 22, 1980. USA 4, USSR 3. Saturday marks exactly four decades since perhaps the greatest sports result in the history of this country, perhaps the greatest upset in the history of sports anywhere. A bunch of kids beat the best hockey team in the world — at the height of the Cold War, David vs. Goliath, Us vs. Them, a moment when the nation’s collective mood seemed as cold as that sheet of ice that became a canvas for a miracle in Lake Placid, New York.

I remember this like it happened only yesterday.

And the absolute pride of watching a bunch of amateur kids beat the professionals from the Red Army was more than inspiring.


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — The woman had been waiting for her opportunity for more than an hour, which was no big deal because, technically, she had been waiting 40 years. She went to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on a frigid night earlier this week with a folder containing a stack of perfectly preserved photographs and news clippings.

And finally, she was going to get Buzz Schneider — who scored the first U.S. goal of the hockey game that would become forever known as the Miracle on Ice — to sign them. He obliged, happily signing everything the overjoyed woman needed.

“Personally, I can’t believe it’s resonated this long,” Schneider said.

Oh, but it has.

Feb. 22, 1980. USA 4, USSR 3. Saturday marks exactly four decades since perhaps the greatest sports result in the history of this country, perhaps the greatest upset in the history of sports anywhere. A bunch of kids beat the best hockey team in the world — at the height of the Cold War, David vs. Goliath, Us vs. Them, a moment when the nation’s collective mood seemed as cold as that sheet of ice that became a canvas for a miracle in Lake Placid, New York.

Lake Placid has never forgotten, and in turn, the world hasn’t forgotten Lake Placid, either. The village in the heart of the Adirondacks still bustles, even in the summer months. The arena is still there, the rink where the Americans played that game now named for the late Herb Brooks, the U.S. coach, and a sporting goods shop across the street from the Olympic Center is called “Locker Room 5” — a tribute to the room the team used on that fateful night.

“The stories I hear, 40 years later, depending on their age: ‘I remember where I was when Kennedy was assassinated, I remember where I was on 9/11, I remember where I was when the Challenger blew up, and I remember where I was when we won,’” said Mike Eruzione, the team captain who scored what became the game-winning goal with exactly 10 minutes left in the third period. “And I always say, ‘We? I didn’t know you were on the team.’ But people felt a part of it, and it’s nice to know 40 years later ... that people remember and share some great stories about what we did so long ago.”

The game details remain largely unforgotten: The U.S. trailed 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, spending more than half the night behind on the scoreboard. Schneider scored to tie the game 1-1, Mark Johnson scored at the very end of the first period to make it 2-2 and Johnson struck again on the power play with 11:21 left to tie the game 3-3.

A mere 81 seconds later, Eruzione happened. The Americans clogged the defensive end of the ice the rest of the way, doing all they could to help goaltender Jim Craig. The Russians never pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, presumably because they were so used to winning that they didn’t know what to do in such a situation.

A miracle. Two days later, the U.S. rallied past Finland for the gold medal on the final day in Lake Placid.

“Lake Placid also had the Olympics in 1932 and, to me, that meant it was the birthplace of the Winter Olympics in the United States,” said Schneider, who appeared alongside Olympic luge legends Erin Hamlin and Gordy Sheer, four-time biathlon Olympian Tim Burke and a pair of rising athletes from the Lake Placid area on a panel Monday night. “It’s a small town, the people here always want to make things work, they’re very humble and they’re hard-working. I’ll tell you, it’s a special little spot.”

There’s no shortage of other reasons why Lake Placid is busy 52 weeks a year. Hockey players and figure skaters still flock to the Olympic Center and its three sheets of ice. There’s a bobsled, skeleton and luge track that welcomes the world’s best every year. The ski jumps are still there, as is the 400-meter speed skating track in front of the high school. Whiteface Mountain is a few miles down the road. There’s a world-class horse show every summer, an Ironman race, and state officials are pumping tens of millions into construction projects to make sure Lake Placid remains extremely visible on the winter sports map.

There’s been countless big moments in Lake Placid. It's just that one clearly rises above all others.

“What hockey did, it was so huge,” said Olympic figure skater Tai Babilonia, who watched every hockey game in the 1980 Games because her plans to compete with partner Randy Gardner were dashed at the last minute when he was injured. “It was kind of a force of nature. There was nothing you can do. They didn't plan it. They surely didn't plan it. They were not expecting that, those guys. That's the nature of the beast. Does it take away anything from anyone? Absolutely not. It was just huge. I thought the roof was going to cave in that night.”

The hockey gold — the game against the Soviets, really — has overshadowed everything else from those Olympics. Eric Heiden’s five gold medals in the five speedskating distances that year, from sprints to a marathon, is a feat that remains unmatched. Figure skating won a pair of singles medals. Phil Mahre won a skiing silver. The Americans picked up 12 medals in all, matching what at the time was the best showing for the U.S. at an Olympics — also done in 1932, also in Lake Placid.

“I think I saw all the hockey games. It was incredible,” said Charles Tickner, the Olympic silver medalist for the U.S. in men’s figure skating 40 years ago. “I think back and I'm disappointed that I never saw Eric Heiden. And the hockey team was great, but I think poor Eric Heiden gets overshadowed by all of that.”

True, but with good reason.

And if the Miracle on Ice needed any assistance in remaining viable after 40 years, the movie “Miracle” has surely helped.

A few saw Hollywood take literary license, but most elements of the movie were right.

“My son happened to play me in the movie,” Schneider said. “The only thing I’m disappointed with is that he made more on the movie than I did.”

A couple generations later, young athletes — boys or girls, hockey players or skiers or sliders or anything else you can do in winter — are still being told the story of how Lake Placid is a place where miracles can come true.

It’s been proven.

“It played a big part for me growing up,” said Burke, the biathlon star. “As a kid growing up in this community, you learned about the Miracle on Ice as far back as I can remember. Anywhere you walk in town, you see the Olympic brand, you see the speed skating oval or you see the ski jumps. The Olympics are such a big part of this community that when you grow up here, you grow up knowing that nothing is not achievable.”


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XDm9mm
1  seeder  XDm9mm    7 months ago

Are there any other old timers that remember when we won this?   

Does the reminder of what was accomplished then still fill you with pride for America?

 
 
 
lady in black
1.1  lady in black  replied to  XDm9mm @1    7 months ago

This old geezer remembers :)

 
 
 
r.t..b...
1.2  r.t..b...  replied to  XDm9mm @1    7 months ago
Are there any other old timers that remember when we won this? 

To me, the greatest moment in sports history. Still remember the most improbable run, a bunch of kids beating the mighty USSR and still having to win another game for the gold. Al Michaels' call could be the greatest of all-time as well. The visuals are etched in time...the pure joy as the time counted down to zero, Jim Craig scouring the stands to share the moment with his father and Eruzione calling his teammates up to the share the podium. Tearing up just thinking about it.

 
 
 
Sparty On
1.3  Sparty On  replied to  XDm9mm @1    7 months ago

Yep, remember it well, good stuff!

 
 
 
Texan1211
1.4  Texan1211  replied to  XDm9mm @1    7 months ago
Does the reminder of what was accomplished then still fill you with pride for America?

I still get goosebumps whenever I hear that "Do you believe in miracles?".

I remember watching at my girlfriend's apartment in Ft. Worth. We were screaming and yelling so loud--but so it seemed everyone else in the complex was too.

Went out that night after the game--it was ALL anyone was talking about.

What a game!

It seemed rather anticlimactic after THAT game when we won gold.

beating the Russians might have been the single biggest upset ever in team sports.

 
 
 
XDm9mm
1.4.1  seeder  XDm9mm  replied to  Texan1211 @1.4    7 months ago
beating the Russians might have been the single biggest upset ever in team sports.

It most certainly was.  Our kids were literally just that.  Amateur kids playing a game they loved.  The Soviets, like most soviet "athletes" of the time were effectively paid professionals with one task.  Most if not all were actually part of the Soviet military and that was their one job, beat their opposition.  To be beat by a bunch of American kids was humiliating.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
1.6  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  XDm9mm @1    7 months ago

I remember watching this game in the staff lounge in the Emergency Room at the U.S. Naval Hospital San Diego where I was going to Advanced X-Ray School. A bunch of us were glued to that TV set. I remember a doctor came in and wanted to change the channel. He was threatened with physical violence from many people in the room! He left.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
1.7  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  XDm9mm @1    7 months ago

I don't follow most sports but even I remember it.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2  JohnRussell    7 months ago

Great moment for the United States and for US hockey fans. It is on any good list of greatest sports events. 

I would put two others, at least, right up there. In 1973 Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths  ( utterly unheard of in a major race) and did so with a time that still stands as the fastest for the Belmont Stakes (and for the distance anywhere) 47 years later.  It is probably the most dominating single performance in sports history. 

Secretariat_the_belmont.jpg

Of course, some people dont consider horse racing to be sports, but I dont agree. 

Another would be the Thrilla In Manila, the third and final fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975. Both fighters left everything in the ring as they staggered through the final rounds throwing and getting hit with haymakers.  It was one of boxings greatest fights, given more fame by unprecedented world wide attention. 

OIP.caG2JPyruYt2iZi31RIUXgHaFj?w=243&h=1

 
 
 
XDm9mm
2.1  seeder  XDm9mm  replied to  JohnRussell @2    7 months ago

Damn JR...   hell hath most assuredly frozen over.  We both agree.

I will note that I had the very distinct pleasure of being in Belmont that day.  Of course, I went in the back way as I did as a kid (my parents home was less than two miles from the track) and hopped the back fence by the stables!!

I was never much into boxing, even though I had wanted to go into the Golden Gloves until my dad and one of his friends gave me a dose of reality and the potential long term effects of boxing, but those two were true current day gladiators and if given the chance likely would have fought to the death as dedicated as they both were and the desire to win was so strong.

 
 
 
squiggy
2.1.1  squiggy  replied to  XDm9mm @2.1    7 months ago

Yea, I couldn't bring myself to openly agree, so I gave it a jrSmiley_13_smiley_image.gif . It was hard.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
2.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JohnRussell @2    7 months ago

I was watching the  race in the common area of my dorm in college.  Horses were a big part of my life back then.  I got so excited when Secretariat pulled it off that I ran around like a crazed chicken.  I partied like a maniac that night.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
3  Perrie Halpern R.A.    7 months ago

One of the best Olympic matches in the history of the Olympics. I was lucky enough to be there (but not for the last game, jrSmiley_5_smiley_image.png   Still, I feel lucky enough to have seen 1 game of the series. 

And btw, thanks for making me feel old, LOL. In 1980, I was 20, so do the math. jrSmiley_78_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Sparty On
3.1  Sparty On  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3    7 months ago

Yep me to.   Made in 1960 .... a fine vintage year

jrSmiley_100_smiley_image.jpg

 
 
 
XDm9mm
3.1.1  seeder  XDm9mm  replied to  Sparty On @3.1    7 months ago
3     Perrie Halpern R.A.  
And btw, thanks for making me feel old, LOL. In 1980, I was 20, so do the math.
3.1     friend    Sparty On
Yep me to.   Made in 1960 .... a fine vintage year

Kids I tell ya.  Both are just kids!!  jrSmiley_82_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
MAGA
3.1.2  MAGA  replied to  XDm9mm @3.1.1    7 months ago

Me too!  1960. A great year.  I loved that Olympic Games.  The impossible dream had come true!  That is an awesome memory 

 
 
 
pat wilson
3.1.3  pat wilson  replied to  MAGA @3.1.2    7 months ago

You were two years old. 

 
 
 
MAGA
3.1.4  MAGA  replied to  pat wilson @3.1.3    7 months ago

I was two years old in 1962.  

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
3.1.5  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Sparty On @3.1    7 months ago
Yep me to.   Made in 1960 .... a fine vintage year

I would have to agree! :)

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
3.1.6  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  XDm9mm @3.1.1    7 months ago

I feel like a kid... but both my kids are getting married, so that has aged me a few years, LOL. 

 
 
 
XDm9mm
3.1.7  seeder  XDm9mm  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3.1.6    7 months ago
I feel like a kid... 

Mentally, I feel like a kid, but the body continually asks 'What are you NUTS?'  And when I don't listen, THEN the mind says, get the Tylenol.

but both my kids are getting married,

Hell, my grandson will have one more year of High School when his parents leave Thailand.  The granddaughter will be two years to graduate HS.

 
 
 
Kavika
3.1.8  Kavika   replied to  XDm9mm @3.1.7    7 months ago

You're a couple of youngsters. 

4 grandkids, 12 great-grandkids and 3 great-great grandkids

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
3.1.9  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  pat wilson @3.1.3    7 months ago

Just like his idol.

 
 
 
Kavika
4  Kavika     7 months ago

12 of the 16 players were from Minnesota. One from my hometown of Warroad. (Hockey town USA). And Brooks the coach was from MN as well....

There are two sports in Northern MN. Hockey and Lacrosse. 

The US had to beat a very tough Finnish team to take the gold after beating the Russians. The final score against Finland was 4-2. 

 
 
 
XDm9mm
4.1  seeder  XDm9mm  replied to  Kavika @4    7 months ago
There are two sports in Northern MN.

What then do you call 'ice fishing'?  (Being the wise ass I am, I always asked what did they do with all the ice they caught.)   I remember MN as also having two seasons.  Winter and winter preparation.

 
 
 
Kavika
4.1.1  Kavika   replied to  XDm9mm @4.1    7 months ago

Ice fishing is ''feed the family'' not considered a sport. 

Summer in northern MN is a Tuesday afternoon in August, don't blink.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
4.1.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  XDm9mm @4.1    7 months ago

I used to plant bird seed hoping to grow birds.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
4.1.3  Raven Wing  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @4.1.2    7 months ago

384

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
4.1.4  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Raven Wing @4.1.3    7 months ago

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Sparty On
4.2  Sparty On  replied to  Kavika @4    7 months ago

You forgot broomball .....

 
 
 
Kavika
4.2.1  Kavika   replied to  Sparty On @4.2    7 months ago

I did leave it out and we're good at it as well.  Hibbing MN has won four World Curling Championships. If you had a broken leg/arm/jaw you sat out hockey or Lacrosse and went to curling. We're pretty damn good at it as well...jrSmiley_4_smiley_image.png

Oh, the US Hockey Hall of Fame is in Eveleth MN. 801 Hat Trick Ave.... 

 
 
 
XDm9mm
4.2.2  seeder  XDm9mm  replied to  Kavika @4.2.1    7 months ago
Hibbing MN

Do you know if Dylan still lives there?

I ran into him when I lived in MN and the son and I went hunting up in that area.

 
 
 
Kavika
4.2.3  Kavika   replied to  XDm9mm @4.2.2    7 months ago

No, he doesn't live there. He has a residence in NYC and a few other places. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
4.2.4  Sparty On  replied to  Kavika @4.2.1    7 months ago

My football teammates and I used to win all the Broomball tournaments at Mich Tech because a teammate from Minnesota had broomball shoes.

You could almost run on the ice in those things.    The hockey players never did figure it out.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
4.2.5  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Sparty On @4.2    7 months ago

Is broomball like the Canadian sport of curling?

 
 
 
Sparty On
4.2.6  Sparty On  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @4.2.5    7 months ago

No, two separate things.

Broomball is kinda like a cross between hockey and soccer.    Played on ice with a ball, using a broom for a stick, usually a highly modified broom made stiffer with duct tape or such.

No skates, just shoes or boots

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
4.2.7  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Sparty On @4.2.6    7 months ago

Thank you for the clarification.

 
 
 
MAGA
5.1  MAGA  replied to  MAGA @5    7 months ago

USA! USA! USA! 🇺🇸🗽🇺🇸🦅🇺🇸

 
 
 
Jasper2529
6  Jasper2529    7 months ago
Lake Placid has never forgotten, and in turn, the world hasn’t forgotten Lake Placid, either. The village in the heart of the Adirondacks still bustles, even in the summer months. 

Having visited Lake Placid several times, I can agree with this. There's something for everyone in any season. 

https://www.whiteface.com/facilities/lake-placid-olympic-center

 
 
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