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Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp postponed until 2022

Members of the 1980 U.S. hockey team, in the front row, pose with participants of the 2019 Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp in the Herb Brooks Arena. This was the last fantasy camp to be held. Another one is planned for May 2022 after being canceled in 2020 and 2021. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — The sixth Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp was recently postponed for the third time in the past year, according to officials at the state Olympic Regional Development Authority.

“In light of the COVID pandemic, the camp is so social in nature, we weren’t in a position to move forward for planning for this May,” said ORDA Director of Events Jeff Potter, who is the co-director of the fantasy camp. “It’s a long-term planning process, and you’ve got to go with the information you have.”

Last year’s event was to be held from May 3 to 7, more than a month after Lake Placid held a successful 40th anniversary celebration of the XIII Olympic Winter Games in 1980. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, and event organizers “kicked the can down the road” to Aug. 31 to Sept. 4, as Potter put it, just in case COVID-19 restrictions eased by later in the summer. That didn’t happen, and the event was rescheduled for May 2 to 6 this year. Yet COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, and ORDA has now moved the camp to May 1 to 5, 2022.

“Hopefully we’re in a better position and things are in the new normal and we can get together and celebrate the 1980 hockey team and have a typical camp that we once used to,” Potter said.

In addition, the Olympic Center is currently undergoing a major renovation, including the 1980 Rink in the Herb Brooks Arena, where the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team beat the Soviet Union 4-3 in what was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.” The team went on to beat Finland for the gold medal.

1980 U.S. Olympic hockey player John Harrington, top right, gets hugged by teammates after winning the gold medal during the 2019 Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp. It was in the same rink where the Olympians won the “Miracle on Ice” game against the Soviet Union and subsequently beat Finland 4-2 to win the gold medal. It’s located in the Herb Brooks Arena, named after the coach of the 1980 Olympic hockey team. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

The Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp debuted in the spring of 2015, shortly after the 19 living members of the 1980 team visited Lake Placid for a reunion to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their historic win.

During the fantasy camp, upwards of 60 or so people pay thousands of dollars to hang around members of the 1980 team for several days. The camp features a draft for teams, a miniature tournament and social events. The Olympians coach and/or play alongside campers.

At the time of this year’s postponement, the fantasy camp was sold out with 64 spots, Potter said, and for the first time there is a waiting list, now totaling about 80 people. Many were excited to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid, even if it wasn’t on Feb. 22, the exact anniversary date.

Members of the team spent Feb. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas at a reunion event and attending a home game of the Golden Knights NHL team. William “Buzz” Schneider was the only member of the team to take part in Lake Placid’s 40th anniversary celebration, as a member of a panel discussion Feb. 17 at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

Since 2015, about 180 individuals have attended fantasy camp, many multiple times. Over those years, members of the 1980 team have looked forward to their time back in Lake Placid every spring, as a reunion of sorts.

“Those guys really enjoy coming to it,” Potter said. “One, the camaraderie for them as a team to get together and have the opportunity to reminisce. But I think, two, is a lot of these campers have developed friendships with the players and talk to them on a regular basis. So I think the guys kind of look at it as a reunion of the campers as well.”

This year, 14 members of the 1980 team had committed to attending the fantasy camp, with Bill Baker “on the fence,” Potter said. Those players were Neal Broten, Dave Christian, Mike Eruzione, Steve Janaszak, Mark Johnson, John Harrington, Rob McClanahan, Ken Morrow, Jack O’Callahan, Mike Ramsey, Buzz Schneider, Dave Silk, Eric Strobel and Mark Wells. Those who were not attending were Steve Christoff, Jim Craig and Phil Verchota. Bob Suter died in September 2014, and his jersey was retired to the rafters of the Herb Brooks Arena in 2015. The jersey for Mark Pavelich, who died on March 4 this year, will join Suter’s during a ceremony at the next fantasy camp. Herb Brooks died in 2003.

Learn more about the fantasy camp at www.miracleonicefantasycamp.com.