1980 Winter Olympics
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1980 Winter Olympics

XIII Olympic Winter Games
1980 Winter Olympics logo.svg
Poster for the 1980 Winter Olympics[a]
Host cityLake Placid, New York, United States
Athletes1,072 (840 men, 232 women)
Events38 in 6 sports (10 disciplines)
Opening13 February
Closing24 February
Opened by
Charles Kerr [1][2]
StadiumLake Placid Equestrian Stadium

The 1980 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XIII Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as Lake Placid 1980, was a multi-sport event held from February 13 to February 24, 1980, in Lake Placid, New York, United States.[3] This was the second time the Upstate New York village hosted the Games, after 1932. The only other candidate city to bid for the Games was Vancouver-Garibaldi, British Columbia, Canada, which withdrew before the final vote (though Vancouver would eventually win the bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.)

The mascot of the Games was "Roni", a raccoon. The mask-like rings on a raccoon's face recall the goggles and hats worn by many athletes in winter sports. The sports were played at the Olympic Center, Whiteface Mountain, Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Bobsled Run, the Olympic Ski Jumps, the Cascade Cross Country Ski Center, and the Lake Placid High School Speed Skating Oval.

Host selection

The selection process for the 1980 Winter Olympics consisted of one bid, from Lake Placid, New York, United States. It was selected at the 75th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Vienna on October 23, 1974.[4][5][6][7]

After Denver withdrew from hosting the 1976 Games in late 1972, Lake Placid had submitted a late bid to the IOC in February 1973;[8] Innsbruck, Austria, was selected as the host and Lake Placid was the runner-up.[9][10]


Notable highlights included:

  • The United States men's ice hockey team, composed mostly of collegiate players and not predicted to advance beyond group play, won the gold medal. The United States team's 4-3 win over the veteran and professional Soviet team, which came into the 1980 Games having won four consecutive Olympic gold medals, became known as the "Miracle on Ice" in American popular culture. The win captured the hearts of Americans, even though it was the win against Finland that secured the gold medal.
  • Eric Heiden of the United States won gold in the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m, and 10,000m speed skating events, setting four Olympic records and one world record (10,000m) in the process and delivering 83% of the American gold medals (the only other gold, as noted above, was won by the hockey team). Heiden became the first person to win all five speed skating events, the first of only three to win five gold medals in individual events at a single Games (either Summer or Winter), and is still the only athlete to win five gold medals at one Winter Games.
  • Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark won both the giant slalom and the slalom.
  • Hanni Wenzel won the women's giant slalom and slalom, making Liechtenstein the smallest country to produce an Olympic champion.
  • Ulrich Wehling of East Germany and Irina Rodnina of the USSR won their respective events for the third time, Wehling in Nordic combined and Rodnina in pairs figure skating.
  • Aleksandr Tikhonov of the USSR earned his fourth straight gold medal as part of the 4 × 7.5 km biathlon relay team.
  • Nikolay Zimyatov of the USSR earned three gold medals in cross-country skiing.
  • Robin Cousins won gold for Great Britain in the men's singles figure skating.
  • East Germany won the most medals overall (23) but had fewer golds (9) than the USSR (10).
  • In possibly the most dramatic duel of the games, Sweden's Thomas Wassberg edged Finland's Juha Mieto in the 15 km cross-country skiing by 0.01 seconds, the closest margin of victory ever in Olympic cross-country skiing.
  • Although they did not get any medals, the People's Republic of China entered the Olympic Games for the first time after the IOC agreed to designate the Republic of China "Chinese Taipei".
  • Lake Placid 1980 marked the first use of artificial snow in Olympic competition.


The Olympic cauldron

There were 38 events contested in 6 sports (10 disciplines). See the medal winners, ordered by sport:


Map of the venues in Lake Placid

The former Will Rogers Memorial Hospital was briefly used as press headquarters.[11]

The site was considered ideal for the available infrastructure from the 1932 Winter Olympics, most notably the Bobsleigh run. The existing facilities meant the Olympics could be staged on a reasonable budget and with limited environmental impact. It was not just a matter of convenience, either, according to Lake Placid's congressman, Representative Robert McEwen. "It is no secret to us in America that the measure of federal support given to athletes in Communist countries (so that they win medals and improve the countries' image abroad) is on a level unknown to us here in America," he told Congress." This would be a step in the right direction, a worthy investment in American winter athletes." The local Olympic committee needed congressional approval for funding to build the Olympic Village. Congress required an after use contract for facilities, and it was agreed that the Olympic Village would be built in accordance to Federal Bureau of Prisons needs. Following the Olympic Games, it was repurposed for Federal Correctional Institution, Ray Brook.[12]

Medal count

Two gold and bronze Olympic medals from XIII Olympic Winter Games, designed by Gladys Gunzer

These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1980 Winter Games.

  *   Host nation (United States)

1 Soviet Union106622
2 East Germany97723
3 United States*64212
4 Austria3227
5 Sweden3014
6 Liechtenstein2204
7 Finland1539
8 Norway13610
9 Netherlands1214
10 Switzerland1135
Totals (10 nations)373231100

Participating nations

37 NOCs participated.

Cyprus made their Olympic debut at the games. The People's Republic of China and Costa Rica both made their Winter Olympic debut. The Republic of China refused to attend both the Summer Games in Montreal, the Winter Games in Lake Placid and the Summer Games in Moscow over the IOC's recognition of the People's Republic of China as "China", and its request for the Republic of China to compete as "Chinese Taipei". The PRC, on the other hand, returned to the Olympics for the first time since 1952 and made its Winter Olympic debut, however then boycotting the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics.[13]

Participating National Olympic Committees


Roni is the Olympic mascot of these Games, created by Don Moss. The mascot is a racoon, which is a familiar animal from the mountainous region of the Adirondacks where Lake Placid is situated. The name Roni comes from the word racoon in Iroquoian, the language of the native people from the region of the State of New York and Lake Placid and was chosen by Lake Placid school children.[14]

Theme song

The official theme song for the 1980 Winter Olympics was "Give It All You Got" by the American flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione, who performed the song (along with the song "Pina Colada") live at the Closing Ceremony, with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (Canada).[15]

See also



  1. ^ The emblem is a line that forms the Adirondacks, which becomes a column on the left, paying tribute to the ancient Olympic games. The top of the column is serrated to hold the Olympic rings. This represents a double cauldron, acknowledging that the Olympics were also held in Lake Placid in 1932.


  1. ^ "Lake Placid 1980 - The Torch". Olympics.com. Retrieved 2021.
  2. ^ "Passing the test: How Charles Kerr was chosen to light the Olympic Cauldron". United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum. Retrieved 2021.
  3. ^ "Lake Placid 1980 Torch Relay". International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ "Past Olympic host city election results". GamesBids. Archived from the original on January 24, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  5. ^ Wimmer, Ferry (October 23, 1974). "Moscow, Lake Placid awarded Olympics". Nashua Telegraph. (New Hampshire). UPI. p. 38.
  6. ^ "'80 Olympic Games go to Moscow, Lake Placid". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. October 24, 1974. p. 15.
  7. ^ Johnson, William O. (November 4, 1974). "Back where the games belong". Sports Illustrated. p. 28.
  8. ^ "Lake Placid assured of welcome". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. February 2, 1973. p. 22.
  9. ^ "Innsbruck gets '76 Games". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. February 5, 1973. p. 10.
  10. ^ "Innsbruck given Winter Olympics". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. February 5, 1973. p. 25.
  11. ^ Raymond W. Smith (July 1983). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Will Rogers Memorial Hospital". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved 2010.
  12. ^ Lewis, Danny (August 18, 2016). "Why the 1980 Olympic Village Is Now a Prison". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2020.
  13. ^ Kiat.net Archived June 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Olympic Winter Games Mascots from Innsbruck 1976 to Sochi 2014 Archived June 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Olympic.org
  15. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of No.1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications)
Official reports
Works cited
  • Mogore, Christian (1989). Les jardins secrets de Jean-Jacques Rousseau [The great history of the Olympic Winter Games] (in French). Chambéry, Savoie, France: Editions AGRAF. ISBN 2-908240-01-7.
  • Monnin, Éric (2014). De Chamonix à Sotchi: Un siècle d'olympisme en hiver [From Chamonix to Vancouver: A Century of Olympism in Winter] (in French). Paris. ISBN 978-2-36403-066-4.
  • Vallet, Stéphane (1988). Les Jeux olympiques d'hiver [The Winter Olympics] (in French). Lyon: La Manufacture. ISBN 2-7377-0057-4.
  • Wallechinsky, David (2001). The complete book of the Winter Olympics (2002 ed.). Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press. ISBN 1-58567-195-9.
  • Wilson, Harold E. (2004). "Lake Placid 1980". In Findling, John E.; Pelle, Kimberly D. (eds.). Encyclopedia of the modern Olympic movement. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-32278-3.

External links

Preceded by
Winter Olympics
Lake Placid

XIII Olympic Winter Games (1980)
Succeeded by

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