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SPECIAL MOMENTS: Olympic Museum and a ‘Miracle’ that may have never happened

January 3, 2012
MARGARET MORAN, News Staff Writer , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The village is well-known for hosting the Olympic Games twice - once in 1932 and again in 1980 - and as a result, is in an elite crowd.

There are currently only two other locations in the world to be awarded the honor of hosting the Olympics twice and they are: St. Moritz, Switzerland and Innsbruck, Austria. Had certain circumstances had not happened before the 1980 Olympics, Lake Placid may have never hosted its second Winter Games.

The past

Article Photos

Photos/Margaret Moran/Lake Placid News

Chris and Patrick Kronk, of Tampa, Fla., look at the U.S. Olympic team's goal post and Jim Craig's goalie equipment from the 1980 Winter Games, which are part of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum’s Miracle on Ice exhibit.

Denver, Colo. was awarded to host the 1976 Winter Olympics, but later backed out as host city. The city pulled out after Denver residents found out that the estimated cost to host the Olympics was greater than originally proposed by the organizing committee and voiced concerns about the Games' impact on the environment and athletic facilities, according to "Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement."

Voters put a stop to Game preparations by rejecting a $5 million appropriation needed to fund the Games in a referendum on Nov. 7, 1972. As a result, Denver forfeited its right to host the 1976 Winter Olympic Games.

After Denver dropped out, Lake Placid presented its case to host the 1976 Olympics to the International Olympic Committee, IOC, along with Innsbruck, Austria. Both Innsbruck and Lake Placid had hosted the Winter Olympics before; Innsbruck in 1964 and Lake Placid in 1932.

Fact Box

These and other Olympic artifacts can be viewed at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, $4 for juniors and free for children 6 years old and under.

The IOC ended up picking Innsbruck to host the 1976 Olympics, but it was so pleased with the presentation that Lake Placid gave that it asked the village to make a bid for the 1980 Winter Olympics, according to the article "The '32 Connection" in the January/February issue of Adirondack Life.

The United States Olympic Committee appointed Lake Placid as the official U.S. entry for the 1980 Winter Games in September 1974. But before the IOC would accepted Lake Placid a possible host city, it analyzed Lake Placid's bid intensely in order to avoid another U.S. city withdrawing its bid after being selected, according to the piece "Lake Placid Perseveres ... and is Awarded the Bid to Host the XIII Olympic Winter Games,"

The Lake Placid bid committee had to provide proof that village residents supported hosting the Games, that all levels of government approved as well, and that it either had the venues to host the Games or the finances to construct needed venues. Lake Placid was able to meet all the IOC's requirements, and therefore, was in the running to host the 1980 Olympic Games.

It wasn't alone though.

Four international cities also had Olympic hosting dreams: Banff, Canada; Oslo, Norway; Chamonix, France; and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, German Federal Republic. Yet by the summer 1974 all four of the international cities withdrew their bids, leaving Lake Placid the only remaining bid to host the 1980 Olympic Games.

On Oct. 27, 1974, IOC appointed Lake Placid to host the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. And the magic didn't end there.

One of the most memorable events of the 1980 Olympic Games was the Miracle on Ice hockey game where the United States team, made up of a mixture of American college students and amateurs, was able to defeat the Soviet national ice hockey team, which at the time was considered the best hockey team in the world, with a final score of 4-3. Two days later the U.S. hockey team went on to win the gold medal after beating Finland in its last match.

"Miracle on Ice that particular game is considered the greatest sports moment in the 20th century," said Alison Haas, archivist for the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, which is located in the Olympic Center. "Because of what happened with them winning over the Soviet Union really put us (Lake Placid) on the map in terms of a location."

The present

Paying tribute to the 1980 Winter Games along with other Winter Olympic Games and some Summer Olympic Games is the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

In the museum there are various artifacts on display ranging from Olympic posters to Olympic medals that people can view.

According to Liz DeFazio, director of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, the museum's most popular exhibit is Miracle on Ice.

The exhibit contains some of Jim Craig's goalie equipment, including his stick and gloves, the goal itself, Phil Verchota's award ceremony suit and the hockey sticks other members of the U.S. Olympic hockey team.

Haas said a new item had recently been added to the Miracle on Ice exhibit.

"One interesting piece that was recently added this summer that whip up there (on the wall) when the hockey team was doing their Secret Santa and one of the members of the team gave the whip to (coach) Herb Brooks," she said.

Haas also pointed out a display of 1980 Olympic credentials for both members of the U.S. hockey team and the Soviet national ice hockey team.

Other artifacts from the 1980 Winter Olympics on display include participant medals, the Olympic torch as part of a chronological display of torches, a collection of uniforms that were worn by the volunteers and other staff members, a signed ABC plaque, the network that broadcasted the Olympics, and Roni Raccoon, the mascot of the Games.

These and other Olympic artifacts can be viewed at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, $4 for juniors and free for children 6 years old and under.

Contact Margaret Moran at 518-523-4401 or at



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