Lake Placid To Relive The Miracle On Ice This Weekend With 1980 Hockey Team
It’s a game that still resonates across the sports world — arguably the biggest upset in history. Saturday night, the entire 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team will return to Lake Placid for a public celebration of what Sports Illustrated called “the greatest sports moment of the 20th century.”
“Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? Yes! ”
That iconic call by Al Michaels on ABC 35 years ago echoed the excitement centered in a tiny Adirondack village.
“It was pandemonium.” Jack LaDuke was the audio and visual director for the 1980 Winter Olympic Committee. He was in the hockey arena coordinating media when the U.S. team beat the Russians. “People said you could hear the cheers all over town, all over the main street coming from the arena when the final goal was scored. The U.S. hockey team was just sort-of skating around on the ice. To me it almost seemed like they were dazed a little bit. But the amount of excitement in that arena would daze anybody. The cheering and the American flags waving all over the place. It was just a spectacle I’ve never seen or heard. It was the sound that still resounds with me.”
Currently president of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, Jim McKenna was not in the arena during the historic game. He ran a business directly across the street and says the entire village could feel the energy surge from the building. “We didn’t even have to listen to the game. We knew what was going on by hearing just the roar. Everything in the whole village at that time was a feeling that cannot be described. When they came out, I still remember what used to be called the Arena Grill which is right in front of the 1980 or the Herb Brooks Arena of the Olympic Center complex, there were people on the roof with American flags. Literally every space, every little mound, even in the streets, every inch of ground in the whole downtown corridor was covered with people with American flags and chanting USA.”
35 years later, all the surviving members of the Miracle on Ice team will be in Lake Placid for a reunion Saturday. At 7:30, the team will gather at the rink now named after their late coach —Herb Brooks Arena. Olympic Regional Development Authority Spokesman Jon Lundin says Saturday evening the public will be able to relive with the players the “miracle moment” and the effort it took to attain it. “You’re going to see the entire team. And through audio, through some still photography, through motion pictures and game footage and stuff you’ll be able to relive what it was like for that team leading up to the Olympics. And then, of course, a large part of the event will focus on that dramatic 4 to 3 win over the Soviet Union. Two nights later they needed to beat Finland to win the Olympic gold medal, so there will be that as well. A lot of these players have told stories and have reminisced about it. For the general pubic it’s going to be an opportunity to be a part of that."
Both LaDuke and McKenna will be at the celebration. LaDuke will be working; he is recording and reporting on the event for Mountain Lake PBS. McKenna says this time, he’ll be a spectator inside the arena. "I think we’re gonna feel the same type of feeling that was there 35 years ago."