Friday, February 14, 2014

Lake Placid Winter Olympics Kick Off

On Feb. 14, 1980, the thirteenth Winter Olympic games, a multi-sport event which was celebrated from Feb. 13 through Feb. 24 in Lake Placid, New York. This was the second time the Upstate New York village hosted the Games, after 1932. 

The only other candidate city to bid for the Games was Vancouver-Garibaldi, British Columbia, Canada; which withdrew before the final vote.

The mascots of the Games were "Roni" and "Ronny", two raccoons. The mask-like rings on a raccoon's face recall the goggles and hats worn by many athletes in winter sports.

The sports were played at the Olympic Center (later renamed Herb Brooks Arena), Whiteface Mountain, Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Bobsled Run, the Olympic Ski Jumps, the Cascade Cross Country Ski Center, and the Lake Placid High School Speed Skating Oval.

The East Germans won the most medals with 23 total including nine Gold medals, seven Silver medals and seven Bronze medals.

The Soviet Union had one less medal than East Germany with 22, but had the most Gold medals with 10. They also had earned six Silver medals and six Bronze medals.

The United States finished third in total medal count with 12, earning six Gold medals, four Silver medals and two Bronze medals.

The most notable highlight of the Games involved the United States men's ice hockey team. The team was composed mostly of collegiate players and was not predicted to advance beyond group play.

They won the gold medal, defeating the heavily favored Soviet team and Finland in the medal round. The United States team's 4–3 win over the Soviet team, which came into the 1980 Games having won four consecutive Olympic gold medals, became known as the "Miracle on Ice" in the U.S. press.

The win captured the hearts of Americans during a time of Cold War tensions, even though it was the win against Finland that captured the gold medal. A film about the event, called Miracle, was released in 2004.

Other notable highlights included

Lake Placid 1980 marked the first use of artificial snow in Olympic competition.

Cyprus made their Olympic debut at the 1980 Winter Olympics. The People's Republic of China and Costa Rica both made their Winter Olympic debut. The Republic of China had boycotted the Games over the IOC's recognition of the PRC as "China", and its request for the Republic of China to compete as "Chinese Taipei".

Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark won both the giant slalom and the slalom.

Hanni Wenzel won the women's giant slalom and slalom, making Liechtenstein the smallest country to produce an Olympic champion.

Ulrich Wehling of East Germany and Irina Rodnina of the USSR won their respective events for the third time.

Aleksandr Tikhonov of the USSR earned his fourth straight gold medal.

Nikolay Zimyatov of the USSR earned three gold medals in cross-country skiing.

Eric Heiden of the United States won 5 gold medals in speedskating (500m, 1,000m, 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m), setting 4 Olympic records and 1 world record (10,000m) in the process. Heiden was the first to win 5 individual gold medals at one Winter Games.

Robin Cousins won gold for Great Britain in the men's singles figure skating.

The closing ceremonies were held indoors at the Herb Brooks Arena.

In possibly the most dramatic duel of the games, Sweden's Thomas Wassberg edged Finland's Juha Mieto in the 15 km cross-country skiing by 0.01 seconds, the closest margin of victory ever in Olympic cross-country skiing. This led the International Ski Federation (ISF) to time all events to the nearest 1/10 second in the future.

This years' Winter Olympics in Sochi are kicking off and currently the United States is trailing only Norway in medal count with 12 to their Norwegians 14. It also marked only the third time in Olympic history that the United States swept the podium in a single discipline with three Americans atop the podium on Men's skiiing slopestyle.