Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympic Games

With the return of the Olypic Games, Lake Placid was tasked with organizing the Winter Games after Vancouver retreated its bid before the final vote. 1,072 athletes fought for Olympic medals between 13 and 24 February 1980.


Time and Place: Lake Placid (USA), 13 – 24 February 1980
Participation: 37 countries, 1072 athletes
Number of sports: 8 sports, 37 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: 14
Fire lit by:  Dr. Charles Morgan Kerr
Games opened by: Walter Mondale (Vice-president of the USA)
Olympic oath: Eric Haiden (speed skating)


Trivia from the Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympic Games

The 1932 Games proved an excellent learning experience for organizers who finally stopped repeating certain mistakes. The Americans were thus forced to seek out new ideas and solutions. They used machinery for making artificial snow in order to assure optimum conditions for all events, a first in Olympic history.


Olympic heights


American winter sports fans were thrilled to see the Olympic spirit return to the state of New York. Athletes from 37 states created great excitement with no lack of exceptional performances. Alpine skiing was marked by excellent performances by Nanni Wenzel and  Ingemar Stenmark. In Nordic skiing it was Barbara Petzolf and Nikolay Zimyatov who stole the show. Athletes from the USSR again proved too strong for the other teams.


With the political tension between the USSR and the USA, the local fans were that much more pleased with the successes of their athletes. Particularly the gold of the hockey team was remembered for a long time. A new milestone was reached by speed skater Eric Heiden who also took the Olympic oath in the name of the athletes at the opening ceremony. He was in a class of his own at the ice rink, winning five gold medals.