'Cold War on a Sheet of Ice': Political Legacy of ‘Miracle on Ice’ Hockey Win

PHOTO: The United States and the Soviet Union shake hands after the semifinal hockey game during the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, Feb. 22, 1980. Focus On Sport/Getty Images
The United States and the Soviet Union shake hands after the semifinal hockey game during the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, Feb. 22, 1980.

Thirty-five years of hindsight provide fresh perspective on the “Miracle on Ice,” the improbable 1980 victory by a group of U.S. college hockey players over the powerful Soviet team in the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games.

The New York games were played at the dawn of a decade defined by the Cold War and its end. World events from Afghanistan through Iran served as a backdrop for the shocking result, and Olympic boycotts in 1980 and 1984 would later bring even greater political implications into international sporting events.

On the latest episode the ESPN-ABC podcast “Capital Games,” we hear from some of the key players in that drama. You can listen to the episode HERE on desktop and HERE on mobile.

Al Michaels, the legendary broadcaster whose on-air call on ABC would give the event the “miracle” label for which it’s known, talks about how he came up with that line, and the broader political and social implications that derived from the game.

U.S. team captain Mike Eruzione, who scored the game-winning goal against the Soviets, speaks about how the young American players were only vaguely aware of what it meant to be playing that game at that time.

We also spoke with Jonathan Hock, the filmmaker behind the new “30 for 30” film “Of Miracles of Men,” which explores the game and its aftermath from the perspective of the Soviet athletes who left Lake Placid in shocking disappointment.

You can listen to the full episode of “Capital Games” HERE on desktop or HERE on mobile. You can also subscribe to the podcast for free using the podcast app on Apple devices.

Watch the segment “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” aired on the 35th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” HERE. The interviews with Michaels and Eruzione were originally conducted for that program.

“Capital Games with Andy Katz and Rick Klein” is a joint ESPN-ABC production that’s part of the “ESPN Perspectives” podcast series. The program explores the nexus of sports and politics in a longform audio format.