LAKE PLACID – It’s been 41 years since the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team did something almost no one believed they would do.
On Feb. 22, 1980, during the XIII Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, the U.S. team overcame all odds to beat the Soviet Union.
It was one of the biggest moments in U.S. sports history.
Not a lot has changed in Lake Placid since then even during a pandemic. It’s still a small village with a busy Main Street and international flags flying in front of the Olympic Arena.
An Olympic Center tour has taken fans into the rafters of the ice rink, where they watch a video of the final moments of the historic game while looking down on the place where it happened.
“It gives you goosebumps,” one Lake Placid resident said on social media recently.
It seemed impossible that a bunch of college-age hockey players could defeat the greatest hockey team on earth.
But they did, as fans shouted “USA, USA, USA.”
“Do you believe in miracles?” announcer Al Michaels shouted in the final minutes of the game.
They won 4-3, and then took the gold medal on Feb. 24 with a 4-2 victory over Finland.
It brought the nation together at a time when the Iranian hostage crisis still roared in the midst of a major recession and the Cold War.
An effort is underway now to build a monument in Lake Placid to remember the moment that captured the hearts of millions of Americans.
Among those involved is Northway Brewing, a company that just released Miracle on Ice Golden Ale to the public.
“It’s important we memorialize this moment in history and this great team,” Jeff Vukelic, president of Saratoga Eagle Sales and Services, said in a news release.
“Together with Miracle on Ice LLC and Monument to a Miracle, we are rolling out this beer and committing a portion of the proceeds to help build a monument in Lake Placid to honor the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team and the greatest sporting moment in history.”
The Monument to a Miracle Fundraiser has been a three-year project with sculptor Robert Eccleston and the Friends of the 1980 Miracle Hockey Team LLC group.
Directed by Katie Million and Jeff Potter, the Monument to a Miracle Committee is creating and funding the monument.
"Living in Lake Placid for almost 20 years, you feel the impact of the 1980 Miracle Hockey Team every day,” Million said in the release.
“Walking through the doors of the Herb Brooks Arena in the Olympic Center still brings chills.”
Million said they’re accepting donations toward the monument.
“We felt that this incredible sports moment and the ultimate example of teamwork exemplified by the group richly deserved its own monument,” she said.
“We hope to keep the team's legacy alive and provide an opportunity for future generations of Americans to learn about the 1980 Miracle Hockey Team and the values that led to their gold medal victory.”
Sports writer Wayne Coffey wrote a book on the victory, “The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.”
Coach Herb Brooks, who died in 2003 and for whom the Olympic Arena is now named, was one of the toughest coaches in any sport, players remembered.
“You were born to be hockey players,” he told them just before the game. “You were meant to be here. This is your time.”
Former Team USA player John Harrington told the Mankato (Minn.) Free Press last year, “when we left the locker room our skates were off the floor.”
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