Washington, D.C. – In case you missed it, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik wrote an op-ed commemorating the 40th anniversary of the iconic Miracle on Ice and celebrating the North Country’s rich Olympic history. The op-ed was published in The Sun today.
Miracle on Ice, by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21)
As a young child, I learned the incredible importance of Lake Placid and the spirit of the 1980 Olympics from my father. A dedicated winter sportsman, my father spent time in Lake Placid for a portion of the Olympic games. Most notably, he and his best friend were in Lake Placid the night that Team USA beat the Soviet Union in the famed Miracle on Ice hockey game. My Dad told me this story frequently as I was growing up, describing how electric and unbelievable of a night it was to be right here in Lake Placid and how proud he was to be an American.
A generation later, I am proud to serve in Congress and commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the most iconic hockey game in history. As our community knows well, on February 22nd, 1980, the United States men’s hockey team upset the Soviet Union in game 1 of the medal round during the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid. Fearlessly led by their legendary coach Herb Brooks, the youngest team in U.S. history to play in the Olympics beat a veteran Soviet team with a long history of international play.
That time period was tumultuous for the United States, and this game brought back hope and inspired a country that was embroiled in the Cold War. To many people, the American upset was much more than a hockey game - it was a victory of an ideological struggle. It was a renewed sense of hope during a tense time that was welcomed by people not only in the North Country, but throughout the United States and around the world.
There was no better place in the world for this historic game to occur than in the North Country. Lake Placid and the greater Adirondack region are home to some of the best hockey, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and ice skating in the Northeast. Each year, tourists come from around the world to experience winter in the North Country, enjoying a toboggan ride on Mirror Lake or taking a run down the bobsled track.
Our Olympic history and love of winter sports are extremely important to the culture and economy of our region, and these traditions hold special places within our communities. Growing up, I was a proud "hockey sister" traveling to hockey rinks with my parents and younger brother across the North Country and the entire Northeast. The frigid sub-zero, pre-dawn hockey practices and games were an important part of the fabric of my childhood. In addition, I grew up as an avid and dedicated downhill skier and I still enjoy hitting the slopes at Whiteface with my father today! Communities in the North Country rally around these activities and embrace them as important family traditions.
The unique Olympic history of New York's 21st Congressional District is why I fought hard to earn the leadership position of Co-Chair of the Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus. As Co-Chair of this bipartisan Caucus, I have been able to spread the spirit of Lake Placid as a passionate advocate for initiatives that preserve our rich Olympic history and ensure that future generations can participate in these life changing competitions. In fact, the first remarks I ever delivered in Congress on the House Floor celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice.
In addition, I have worked with Olympic athletes as their voice in Congress by supporting the United States Appreciation for Olympians and Paralympians Act, which eliminated a tax penalty on medals awarded to Team USA athletes. I was also proud to help lead the effort to keep USA Luge in Lake Placid, boosting economic activity and keeping our district the luge capital. Lastly, I will continue to be an avid supporter of fully funding the Special Olympics, to help athletes with special needs follow their dreams.
The office of New York's 21st Congressional District in Washington is decorated with many special mementos and pieces highlighting to our district's unique history. But the conversation piece for many constituents who visit D.C. is undoubtedly the USA Hockey Jersey (#21 just like our district!) signed by team captain Mike Eruzione, that hangs on the wall in my office. It is a wonderful reminder of the miraculous, historic events that took place on February 22nd, 1980, in an energized North Country community. It is a constant reminder of the spirit of Lake Placid, the Olympics, the North Country, and the United States of America.