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Monument to a Miracle lauds 1980 USA Hockey

LAKE PLACID | Interest and support to install a monument to the 1980 Miracle on Ice U.S.A. Hockey Team is gaining traction from small business enterprises.

Much like the famed 1980 Winter Olympians who made the historic hockey win against Russia, players are coming together from around the country.

The idea to build a monument in honor of the legendary gold medal team first emerged about six years ago.

Jeff Potter, recently retired corporate development director at the Olympic Regional Development Authority, said the project was formed in 2015. It was the 35th anniversary of the 1980 Winter Games.

"We met up with sculptor Rob Eccleston who was living in Lake Placid at the time. Then Town Supervisor Roby Politi had spoken to Rob kind of informally about doing a statue to commemorate the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team.

"We engaged with Rob, I was with ORDA at the time, but I had known most of the 1980 hockey players through working with them over the years. They were planning to have a reunion on the 35th anniversary in Lake Placid.

"We commissioned Rob to come up with a concept. He met with several of the players and came up with the design.

"Rob built a wire-framed statue of each player for the sculpture mock-up."

The final work would be built life-sized of 20 hockey players, one of the largest statues ever made in America.

"We're hoping to raise $2.5 to $3 million to complete the project," Potter said. "We want to get the word out across the country. We need to raise $100,000 for each of the 20 players."


As designed, the sculpture depicts the moment the hockey team crowded together, all 20 players, when they realized they beat the heavily favored Soviet national team 4-3 in the Olympic semi-final. The win put them in line for gold.

The entire Olympic arena watched transfixed through the final 9 minutes as Team U.S.A. held its 4-3 lead to the last few seconds when sportscaster Al Michaels yelled into his microphone: "Do you believe in miracles?"

He answered "Yes!" when the buzzer blew.

The team had arguably made the most stunning upset in American and International sports history. Hockey U.S.A. went on to beat Finland in the final game for the 1980 gold medal.

Potter along with Katie Million, who works with the former 1980 hockey players, established a 501C3 to raise funds to build the monument.


1980 Monument to a Miracle has progressed in true grassroots fashion so far.

"We've engaged with a gentleman from Minnesota who obtained licensing rights for beer and created a Miracle on Ice Golden Ale," Potter said.

Twelve of the 20 1980 U.S.A. Hockey players were from Minnesota.

The ale, billed as " gold brewed," is crafted by the Northway Brewing Co., of Queensbury, and proceeds from beer sales go toward the Monument to a Miracle.

That project caught the eye of a Finger Lakes vintner, Randy Agness, of Agness Wine Cellars.

Agness built his small winery near Geneva at the northern end of Seneca Lake from a hobby he explored with passion about six years ago.

This year, against stiff international competition, his Semi-Dry Riesling took the gold medal at the 2021 European Wine Challenge in April.

Agness Reisling was the only Riesling Gold Medalist and only U.S. wine awarded with gold.

In an interview with the Sun, Agness said he has connected with Olympic medalist, speed skater Cathy Turner to help launch a new fundraiser for the Monument to a Miracle.

"She trained in Lake Placid, but lived just outside of Rochester, and became a spokeswoman for our project. She knows many of the Olympians from the 1980 hockey team," Agness said.

"For every bottle of wine that we sell, a dollar per bottle will be donated to the 1980 Monument to a Miracle."

Agness officially announced the fundraiser at Terry Robard's Wines & Spirits in Lake Placid over the Fourth of July weekend.

"I just thought this is something we can really get behind. We are a small, independent winery, but even small efforts can have big results."


In Lake Placid, Potter said Monument to a Miracle is just completing the design for their new website. They have maintained a Facebook presence for the past two years.

"We're looking at this as a nationwide effort to reach all corners of the U.S. It's a truly grassroots fundraising campaign."

Once built, the statue would be installed at the 1980 Olympic Center in Lake Placid as part of a legacy park. The goal is to complete the project in the next three to four years.

After celebrating the region's Olympic legacy at ORDA for 36 years, Potter said this is a passion project.

"And I think, whether it's built with a series of small donations, with a contribution from a corporation, or with arts grant funding support, the sculpture is a beautiful piece. It is going to be a must-see for any American or any hockey fan."

The projects are still coming to the fore with others in the wings.

The Meadows at Mystic Lake, in Prior Lake, Minnesota, is hosting FORE! A MIRACLE, a Charity Golf Tournament on July 12 to support the monument fund. The tournament is building golf teams with several U.S.A. 1980 hockey players.


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