U.S. Olympic Hockey Team
Lake Placid, New York, February 22, 1980

Contrary to what almost every sports fan remembers, the U.S. hockey team did not win the gold medal by beating the Russians 4-3 at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games. In fact, even after posting the one of the greatest upsets in sports history by beating the unstoppable Soviet "machine," it was still possible for the U.S. team to end up with no medal at all. Yet on that memorable Friday night, February 22, nobody seemed to know or care. We Americans had just won the only game that really mattered. The nation went crazy, and I was no exception. I believe that it's absolutely vital for a sports photographer to cover every event as if you're a neutral observer. It's very hard, but it's the only way to be sure that you're ready, even when things don't go the way you want them to. Well, I took the picture on this spread of the ecstatic U.S. players just seconds after the final horn sounded. Bob Suter, Mike Eruzione, Steve Janaszak, Dave Silk, David Christian, and Neal Broten: Who will ever forget them and this moment? As for staying neutral, I remember wanting to put my cameras down, pump my arms in the air, and cheer aloud along with everybody else.. If I had done that, there would be no pictures, but I kept on shooting. It wasn't easy--I'd never been more excited in my life. On February 24, just two days after the victory over the Russians, the U.S. beat Finland 4-2 to lock up the gold. Do I still believe in miracles? Yes!


The Best of Leifer
The Best of Leifer

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