All 1980 Olympic skating events, including the "Miracle on Ice," were held in Lake Placid's Herb Brooks Arena.

Photograph by Dan Lundberg, courtesy Wikimedia. cc-by-sa-2.0

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    On February 22, 1980, the American ice hockey team played the “Miracle on Ice”—it defeated the Soviet Union at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. The hockey game was a complete upset, and put the U.S. in position to win the gold medal against Finland two days later.
    The Soviet team was so heavily favored that the game was not shown live on American television. The Soviets had won the gold medal at every Winter Olympic competition since 1964, and lost just three world championships in that time. 
    Cold War tensions contributed to the emotions surrounding the game. President Jimmy Carter was considering withdrawing the American team from the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia, Soviet Union, to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan months earlier. (The U.S. did not participate in the Summer Olympics that year.)
    The “Miracle on Ice” was named the international “story of the century” by the International Ice Hockey Federation in 2008, and Sports Illustrated’s “sports moment of the century” in 1999.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Cold War Noun

    (1947-1991) conflict between the Soviet Union (and its allies) and the United States (and its allies). The two sides never confronted each other directly.

    consider Verb

    to think about.

    invasion Noun

    an attack or move to take possession.

    Olympics Noun

    international sports competition divided into summer and winter games held every four years.

    protest noun, verb

    demonstration against a policy or action.

    Soviet Union Noun

    (1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

    tension Noun

    uncomfortable relationship between two people or groups.

    tournament Noun


    upset Noun

    surprising victory over a strong opponent.