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Miracle on Ice 32-Year Anniversary

by Neil Hartman
I was 19 years old and found myself in the middle of arguably the greatest sporting event in American history.
Where were you on Feb. 22, 1980? I was a production assistant for ABC Sports at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. It was a job I landed for three weeks during my sophomore year at Ithaca College. Upon my arrival in Lake Placid, I learned that I was assigned to figure skating and hockey for the Winter Games, and my responsibilities were to assist the announcers for the respective sports.
Little did I know that I would witness a series of games which would quickly captivate our country. Then, it happened, on this day 32 years ago.
The US hockey team shocked the world by beating the feared Soviet Union 4-3.  There were 8,500 people packed in the Olympic Center for that game and I was one of them, but not in just any seat. I was next to Al Michaels when he said his infamous line, “Do you believe in miracles?” What are the odds that a budding sportscaster would find himself in such a spot?

I was a casual hockey fan growing up, but when I left Lake Placid that year, like many Americans, I became a hockey fan. The US of course won the gold medal, beating Finland, and I remember watching team captain Mike Eruzione calling for his teammates to join him on the medal stand before the national anthem was played. The scene was about as patriotic as I have ever seen. It was a surreal moment for me in my life and I can’t believe over three decades have past since that day.
About 10 years ago, I was able to play golf with Eruzione and we reminisced about the greatest moment in his life and one of the most memorable moments in mine. I have very few keepsakes from my Lake Placid experience. I have my Olympic credentials and ABC winter coat, but I can’t seem to find any pictures. I have audio tapes from my radio reports, but that’s it.

Like many things in life, I appreciate it more now than I did at the time. It’s hard to believe 32 years have passed, but those memories will remain with me for a lifetime. 

E-mail Neil Hartman at nhartman@comcastsportsnet.com.

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