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Fundraising underway for Miracle on Ice monument

This is the maquette, or rough draft, of the Miracle on Ice monument planned for Lake Placid. The sculpture was designed by Rob Eccelston, formerly of Lake Placid and now of Loveland, Colorado. The project is expected to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million and be finished in three to four years. It is inspired by the 1980 Olympic U.S. hockey team’s podium stance during the medal ceremony in what is now the Herb Brooks Arena. (Photo provided)

LAKE PLACID — Fundraising is now underway for a monument to celebrate the Miracle on Ice hockey victory in 1980.

The life-sized monument, designed by sculptor Rob Eccleston, would cost between $2 and $2.5 million and take three to four years to be placed in Lake Placid, according to Jeff Potter, a board member of the Friends of the 1980 Miracle Hockey Team LLC. This is separate from his day job as events director at the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which operates the 1932 and 1980 rinks at the Olympic Center.

“The concept is a life-sized statue of all 20 guys up on the podium with their fingers raised in the air from the awards ceremony,” Potter said.

For many years, visitors have been able to see an image of that moment on a wall of the 1980 Fieldhouse, as they climb the stairs to the second-floor entrance of the Herb Brooks arena. That’s where the U.S. hockey team beat the Soviet Union 4-3 during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in what was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.” It was a classic David-versus-Goliath moment in which a team of mostly college-aged players beat a team of seasoned veterans, known widely as the best in the world.

The podium moment being used for the monument, however, did not happen on Friday, Feb. 22, 1980, the day of the Miracle on Ice. It happened two days later after the U.S. players collected their gold medals for beating Finland 4-2 in another come-from-behind victory.

Members of the U.S. Olympic hockey team celebrate during the medal ceremony on Feb. 24, 1980, in Lake Placid after beating Finland 4-2 for the gold. Two days earlier, they beat the Soviet Union 4-3 in what was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.” (Provided photo)

Team captain Mike Eruzione, who scored the game-winning goal against the Soviets, was on the podium by himself singing the national anthem. When he was done, he waived the team to join him on the top tier. They ran over and climbed to the top, raising their “we’re No. 1” index fingers in unison as they crowded onto the small space. That image was captured on film for posterity, and now it will be a monument.

The location of the monument is yet to be determined. Potter said he’s talking with officials at the town of North Elba about it; the town owns the property.

“Obviously, we’d love to have it somewhere in and around the Olympic Center, but we’re working through that process,” Potter said.

Eccleston used a couple images from the podium scene to create a 12-inch-tall maquette, or rough draft, of the sculpture in 2015.

“It is really spectacular live in person,” Potter said. “The detail is amazing.”

Members of the U.S. Olympic hockey team celebrate during the medal ceremony on Feb. 24, 1980, in Lake Placid after beating Finland 4-2 for the gold. Two days earlier, they beat the Soviet Union 4-3 in what was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.” (Provided photo — Lake Placid Olympic Museum)

Potter and Katie Million are longtime co-directors of the Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp, which has been held from 2015 to 2019 and is scheduled again for 2022. They both lead the monument project.

“Living in Lake Placid for almost 20 years, you feel the impact of the 1980 miracle hockey team every day,” Million said in a press release. “Walking through the doors of the Herb Brooks Arena in the Olympic Center still brings chills.”

The fundraiser is also supported by the Northway Brewing Co. in Queensbury. Part of the proceeds from the company’s Miracle on Ice Golden Ale will go toward the monument.

“As a lifelong patriot, hockey player, fan and participant in the Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp, I was excited when approached to distribute Miracle on Ice Golden Ale for our market in NYS,” Saratoga Eagle Sales and Services President Jeff Vukelic said in the release. “It’s important we memorialize this moment in history and this great team.”

Miracle on Ice Golden Ale is 5.5% alcohol by volume. It is sold locally at the Adirondack Corner Store, Hannaford, Kinney Drugs, Dancing Bears Restaurant, Sol de Oro sports bar, Zig Zags Pub, Stewarts Shops and Players Sports Bar & Grill in Lake Placid; Hyde’s Quick Stop stores on Broadway and Lake Flower Avenue in Saranac Lake; Shaheens Market in Tupper Lake; Hungry Trout Restaurant and North Pole Camping Resort in Wilmington; Stewarts Shops in Keene; and Valley Grocery store in Keene Valley.

Some of Eccleston’s work may be familiar to Lake Placid residents. As the owner operator of Cloudsplitter Studio, he designed the bronze altar table at St. Agnes Catholic Church in 2013 and the Art Devlin Sr. memorial statue at the base of the Olympic Jumping Complex.

Eccleston moved to Lake Placid in 1993 and lived here until recently. He said on Monday, March 15 that he moved to Loveland, Colorado, about two years ago to be closer to the foundry he uses for his sculptures.

Speaking about the Miracle on Ice monument in 2017, Eccleston told the Lake Placid News, “They’re just a great group of guys. They’re down to earth, humble, and they make you want to work hard for them.”

Learn more at 1980 Miracle Monument Facebook page. A PayPal link for donations is located at https://paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/3819484.