Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Miracle on Ice

With the Olympics going on, I thought I'd post something I wrote a few years ago about my experiences with the Miracle on Ice of 1980.

While it was almost an anti-climax after the USA-USSR game in 1980, I was at the gold medal game in Lake Placid when the US defeated Finland. I'll bet if you ask most people, they would say that the Soviet Union game was for the gold. It was not.

The day of the game started inauspiciously enough, but soon grew chaotic when we found out that my grandfather had a lead for tickets to the early game that day, which was the USSR vs. Sweden. When he finally called to say he had gotten the tickets we all madly rushed to get things ready for the three-hour drive. Seven of us packed ourselves into the station wagon - me, my brother and sister, my parents, my grandfather, and my uncle.

The drive was just a blur. Of course, I had been following the Olympics closely; after all, they were going on just a few hours away. It was almost surreal that we were really going there. I didn't even have the time to let any of my friends know before we left. Wouldn't they be surprised when I told them in school on Monday!

We were only able to drive as far as Saranac Lake. We had to take a shuttle in from there. I can still remember how the shuttle stop looked - booths set up selling all sorts of Olympic souvenirs. Hats, pins, frisbees - everything! We bought a few things and then boarded the bus for the last leg to downtown Lake Placid.

The bus dropped us off near the arena. As we walked there we heard a buzz among everyone around us. For some reason, the game times had been switched. We weren't going to see the USSR and Sweden; we were going to see the US and Finland! With the US playing for the GOLD!

The game was very dramatic - the crowd just rippled with excitement the entire game. There was a festival atmosphere there that I have never come close to experiencing since. And each time the US scored - Pandemonium! I had goosebumps the entire game and still get them every time I reminisce about it.

Leaving the arena after the game was over, I wore a grin from ear-to-ear that didn't go away for a week. I don't remember much of the ride home that evening. I know we stopped for dinner along the way and watched on TV part of the game we were originally supposed to see. But that game was meaningless; the US had already won the gold.

I still have the ticket from the game. I keep it in a drawer in my nightstand. It's starting to get worn a little from handling it from time-to-time. Perhaps some day I will give it to my son when he is old enough to appreciate what happened at those glorious Olympic Games twenty-four years ago. I know one thing for sure - I will be taking him to see Miracle when it comes out. Perhaps that will be the beginning of his appreciation of what happened and the incredible patriotism the US hockey team inspired.

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