Tag Archives: winter olympics

From the Miracle On Ice to the Shootout at Sochi: Drama and Sportsmanship on the Hockey Rink

Miracle on Ice, February 22, 1980, Lake Placid, NY.

On February 22nd 1980 the impossible took place, a underdog team of American college hockey players defeated the might Soviet Union Team at Lake Placid New York. It was one of the most memorable and legendary moments in sports history.

I cannot forget that day. I had finished work making and rolling pizza dough at Shakey’s Pizza in Stockton, went home and showered. I then got in my 1966 Buick LeSaber 400 to head over to Judy’s house.  On my way over I was listening to the music on a local AM radio station when ABC news radio broke in to air final few seconds of the game live. I remember listening as Al Michaels made the famous call:


“Eleven seconds, you’ve got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES!” 

The last minute of play in the Miracle on Ice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYscemhnf88 and about ten key minutes of that game.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fztlLwgSFCg

I could not believe it. I found that was screaming in the car.  As soon as I got to Judy’s I went in and told her and her parents. When the game came on, as it was tape delayed I watched it with undivided attention. To this day I cannot forget that night and as I watch the tapes of that game I am still moved to tears by the emotions that come from it.

The underdog Americans had beaten the vaunted Soviet team 4-3. That team went on to defeat Finland in the Gold medal game 4-2. The next day they were guests at the White House and after that the team broke up. Thirteen of those players went on to NHL careers. Brooks led the 2002 Team USA to a Silver Medal in 2002 before being killed in a car crash in 2003. That Silver Medal was the first medal in Hockey for the US since 1980.


The Soviet people and their news media were stunned by the loss. Though the Soviet Team won Silver by defeating Sweden 9-2 the team had lost its luster. While the Soviet Team remained dominant until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1990 it was the end of an era. The Soviets who had taken Gold in the four previous Olympics went on to win Olympic Gold in 1984, 1988 and again after the fall of the Soviet Union as the Unified Team in 1992.


But even so, the upset loss to the young Americans was something that many never really got over. It was not about Cold War politics, it was about pride in their team and their passion for the sport of Hockey. For years many Russians, even after the fall of the Soviet Union longed for Olympic revenge against the Americans.

Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke watched today’s United States versus Russia game at a bar in Sochi with ordinary Russians. His story is well worth the read, but one comment stood out to me in relation to the 1980 game.

“The 1980 game will forever be a scar on my heart,” said 69-year-old Vladimir Makushkin, pausing while carrying his beer from table to table. “Every American knew we were the stronger team. It was students that beat us … young students!”

You can read his article here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/olympics/la-sp-sochi-mens-hockey-plaschke-20140216,0,1790197.column#ixzz2tRThGXrh 


Today in Sochi the American and Russian teams met in a first round game. It was different than 1980. These teams are very evenly matched. Many of the players on both teams play together or against each other in the NHL. They are professionals, they are teammates but today they were playing for something different, Olympic Gold.

Members of Team USA celebrate after defeating Russia in a shootout during their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games

It was a game of greatness, high drama with the teams being tied as the Third Period ended. A shootout ensued and in the 8th round of the shootout T.J. Oshie scored the deciding goal to give the Americans the win.

For many Russians today’s loss was devastating. But at the same time the fans that Plaschke watched the game with displayed the sportsmanship that one expects of fans that love their team, but also love and respect the game even more than the politics that  so often enters into Olympic and other International athletic competitions.



I think that Americans and Russians alike are much more appreciative of each other as well as the shortcomings of our respective governments in post Cold War era. Maybe, just maybe such appreciations will help both of our peoples become closer in the coming years, despite the pressure exerted by the unholy Trinity of Politicians, Pundits and Preachers that is so strong in each of our countries.


Though I was for the American team, I have tremendous respect for the Russians, many of whom I cheer for in the NHL. I am happy that Team USA won, but I will not gloat.  It was a tremendous game between tow outstanding teams and the Russians could have won as easily as the Team USA. The Russians and many of the other teams are hugely talented and this tournament could be won by any team. I think that the Canadians probably have the best team in the tournament, but anything can happen.

APTOPIX Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men

Vladislav Tretyak, who was the starting Goalie for the Soviet squad at Lake Placid and was replaced at the end of the second period with the game tied is often asked about the Miracle on ice. He sees it through the lens of hockey and not politics. He noted: “It was cold above us, but we (the U.S. and Soviet players) always had fine relations… There was none of that, no politics involved.” When asked about the loss he simply says  “That’s ice hockey.” 

So on that, in the hopes that good sportsmanship, camaraderie and the love of a game can bring better appreciation for each other by Americans and Russians I wish you a good night.


Padre Steve+

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Thoughts and Concerns Regarding the Sochi Winter Olympics


I find it strange as I am not watching the Winter Olympics tonight. I have always been more of a fan of the Winter Games than the summer. I cannot remember the last time that I purposely didn’t watch the beginning of any Olympic Games, certainly not the Winter Games. The first Winter Olympiad that I remember watching was in 1972 when it was held in Sapporo Japan. It was a time that I was playing hockey and a time that I fell in love with with the Winter Games.


However I am not watching tonight, and it is not for lack of interest in the sports, athletes and human interest stories. But something doesn’t seem right. I have a sense of foreboding about these games. The security situation troubles me, Chechen and other militant Islamists in the Caucasus have made credible threats. Based on their track record of successfully carrying out major bloody terror attacks throughout Russia, including Moscow, Volgagrad, and Beslan gives credence to the capabilities of these terrorists. I fear for the athletes, their families, the spectators and the citizens of Sochi. I do hope that the Russian Security Services are successful in preventing any attacks. 

There are other things that trouble me. From the reports that I read it does not look like Sochi is really ready for prime time. The isolation of Sochi from the rest of Russia and the world is The reported troubles make it appear that the thin veneer of progress that Putin has tried to apply to a crumbling state is already wearing badly. 

Likewise I do not trust Russian President Putin, it seems to me that he is returning Russia to an authoritarian state which persecutes its minorities, be they ethnic, religious or other supposedly less than desirable groups, specifically in the last case the Russian LGBT community. 


The sad thing in the latter case is that supposedly American Christians like Scott Lively, and advocacy groups like the National Organization on Marriage, as well as many in the conservative Christian alternate media are encouraging and abetting those that would crush the rights of a minority group, in fact they praise Putin’s authoritarianism. I think that speaks volumes of what they think of civil, political and human liberties and is an indicator of what they would do in this country if they ever gained control of all the mechanisms of government. Thankfully I cannot see that happening, but stranger things have happened when virulent radicals promote fear and intolerance in the name of their religion, or ideology.  


Now I am sure that I will watch many of the events shown of these games. I hope they will be successful and I will also be praying that no terrorist attacks harm anyone involved. That being concerned I am concerned for all in Sochi tonight. 


Padre Steve+

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The 1976 Winter Olympics, Dorothy Hamill, Padre Steve and Judy

Dorothy Hamill Gold Medal Performance Innsbruck 1976

Well the 2010 Winter Olympics are upon us.  I have always liked the Winter Games better than Summer Games. Back in 1976 when I was a sophomore in High School Dorothy Hamill won the Women’s Figure Skating Gold Medal in Innsbruck Austria.  I was in love, or more likely in lust. However, despite the fact that I never have even been near Dorothy Hamill she influenced my life in ways unimagined to this very day.

Dorothy Hamill and Gold Medal

Guys are pretty simple. We are first attracted to those that we are attracted to usually by physical attributes.  This may be hard for some to admit but it is a fact. Personality is important however for most guys we don’t get to the personality part until the person that we are attracted to passes the physical attraction test.  For each guy this is different. For some it might be the legs or breasts, for others the face or general body shape, and others like me a combination of face, general body shape and hairstyle.  For me that was the short brown hair of Dorothy Hamill.  This will sound very shallow but with the exception of one date that had short blond hair like 1972 Olympic Figure Skating Medalist Bronze Janet Lynn every girlfriend or date that I went on hard short brown hair like Dorothy Hamill.  Judy, aka the Abbess had short brown hair when I met her.

Janet Lynn

This may sound incredibly shallow but it is a fact, many guys will not want to admit that we are first and foremost attracted to our girl, or in the case gay men their guy based purely physical attributes.  Girls especially find this kind of shallow but somehow put up with us realizing that as Judy says that the “male hormone causes brain damage.” Guys are very simple to attract simply figure out what kind of guy that you want, decipher what he is physically attracted to and make it work. If he is true to himself he will bite like a shark in chum filled waters.

Katerina Witt

So anyway, when I was young I played hockey.  I love the Winter Olympics, I do not think that for speed, danger, beauty and grace that there is little that can compare to them in sports.  When not watching hockey I would always make sure that I watched women’s figure skating. This began in 1968 with the Olympics in Grenoble France where American Figure Skater Peggy Fleming won the Gold Medal and continued for me in 1972 when Janet Lynn won the Bronze in Sapporo Japan. Of course for me this culminated in the 1976 Winter Games where Dorothy Hamill won the Gold.  I was in love/lust. In the fall of 1978 when I met Judy, who had short brown hair I was dating a girl with short brown hair who ended dropping me a few weeks into the relationship. Being that I was a fairly base guy this was devastating, and Judy who was a friend and by the way had a bit of a crush on me and when the other girl dropped me Judy was there for me, smart girl.  She thought that I was pretty melodramatic when I got dropped, which was likely the case but it ended up for the good.  She had short brown hair, was cute and physically attractive and by some odd quirk of fate was attracted to me.

Me and Judy 1980

Now I have never lost my infatuation with Judy or for that matter with Dorothy Hamill, however it is Judy who has captured my heart.

I still love the Winter Games and especially women’s figure skating. In 1980 it was Linda Fratianne who won the Silver but did not capture me like Dorothy Hamill, in 1984 and 1988 it was East German skater Katerina Witt who despite her being from the Commie side of the world captured me and 1992 there was Kristi Yamaguchi who took the gold amid the controversy of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.  The grace and athleticism of women’s figure skating still captivates me.  However I have to give credit to Dorothy Hamill who for whatever reason was the catalyst behind my courtship of Judy who remains the love of my life.  Thanks so much Dorothy Hamill for helping this happen, even if you never realized that I existed.


Padre Steve+

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