The Miracle on Ice of 1980 is one of the greatest moments in Winter Olympics history, though that moment wasn’t the game that clinched the gold medal for the USA Olympic Hockey Team. The Miracle on Ice is when the USA Olympic Hockey Team defeated the Soviet Union 4-3 in their first Medal Round game on February 22, 1980, as seen here at YouTube. Yet the Miracle on Ice game, while very dramatic, only put the USA Olympic Hockey Team in the position to win the gold on Sunday, February 24, 1980, when they defeated Finland 4-2, according to Wikipedia. This is the game that I want to focus on because I have burnt memories in my mind about this particular Sunday afternoon.
Miracle on Ice in 1980 Leads to USA Olympic Hockey Team Showdown with Finland: Where Were You?
The hoopla that was created over the USA Olympic Hockey Team upsetting the Soviets was incredible, and what is referred to as the Miracle on Ice game, which alone won the hearts and minds of the American people. Yet two days after that historic event in Lake Placid, New York, the chance to finish with a gold medal in hockey was ready to be sought after. The game was tied 2-2 in the 3rd period when Rob McClanahan scored the winning goal as shown here on YouTube.
Now, I was living in Casper, Wyoming at the time, as a 12 year old kid. My brother, mother and I were at an afternoon bowling tournament where scores of bowlers and their families and loved ones were on hand. The talk all weekend was whether or not the USA could actually pull this off, win the gold medal after upsetting the Soviet Union. We had to bowl, but we got announcements over the public address system as to the score of the game.
Two Days After the Miracle on Ice Game, History is Made at the 1980 Winter Olympics
Suddenly, with just minutes left in the game, an announcement came over the loudspeakers telling us all that the USA was ahead and about to clinch the gold medal, and for everyone to come up and watch the final minutes. Everyone in the bowling alley converged to where the television was. I had a hard time seeing the action because so many people were in front of me watching the broadcast. Everyone was cheering and the electricity in the air was unbelievable as we watched the game wrap up and the USA Olympic Hockey Team beat Finland 4-2. Chants of USA! USA! USA! filled the building. People were crying tears of joy.
Who says that sports don’t bring people together? I’ve been in baseball and football stadiums full of thousands of people, but I’ve never felt such an electricity and communal spirit as what I felt amongst those scores of people on that Sunday afternoon in 1980, a game made possible because of the Miracle on Ice happening two days earlier. Where were you 30 years ago?
Ice hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics: