Lessons learned from Lake Placid

Friday, February 22, 1980. Winter Olympic Games. Lake Placid, New York, United States.

I can still vividly remember the moment nearly 34 years ago to the present day. Still seven months shy of my ninth birthday; I sensed that this wasn’t a typical ice hockey match. My father was leaning forward in his armchair with so much intensity. The excitement in sportscaster Al Michaels’ voice. This was important. USA vs. USSR in a national TV broadcast which was very rare in those days for ice hockey, a fringe sport that was primarily followed in the Upper Midwest and Northeast parts of my country.


Final score: USA  4 – USSR 3. There was complete hysteria and pandemonium in the arena that was later renamed after the late Herb Brooks, legendary head coach of the 1980 Olympics gold medal team. Little did I know that this would be the one of the most memorable moments in sports history which journalists penned the “Miracle on Ice.

Here’s a quick background for those of you unfamiliar with names like Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, Vladislav Treiak and Boris Mikhailov. The Soviets were expected to easily win another Olympic hockey gold. They were seen as an unstoppable, well-oiled machine, and crushed the Americans 10-3 in an exhibition match two weeks earlier in Madison Square Garden.  Experts said the Americans had absolutely no chance and would be lucky to take a bronze.  They claimed if they played each other 20 times, the Soviets would win 19 of 20. On this afternoon, a bunch of “college kids” had their moment against a powerhouse USSR team that was 27–1–1 (wins-losses-ties) dating back to the 1964 winter games in Innsbruck Austria.


So why I am writing about ice hockey, and why is this relevant for a university staff blog? Here are three things that I learned from that day and try to apply at work in order to achieve my goals and objectives.

1.     There is no “I” in team
It’s one of the oldest clichés in the book, but a team is only good as the sum of its parts. I’m not self-employed. My monthly wage statement comes from Umeå University and that’s the “team” I work for.

2.     Dare to take risks
The statement “but that’s the way we’ve always done it” is one I abhor and is the antithesis of new thinking and creativity. I always seek ways to improve, even if they go against standard norms and practices.

3.     Anything is possible
If there’s one thing ingrained in me since that historic day in Lake Placid is the value of optimism. Things can become a reality with hard work, perseverance, leadership, resources, and last but not least, a little bit of luck.

My Sochi 2014 Ice Hockey Predictions

I know the games have already begun (with an exciting USA shootout win over Russia last night) but I wanted to share my medal predictions for ice hockey. We’ll find out if I’m right on February 23rd. Share your own!!

Women’s Ice Hockey
Gold  – USA       Silver – Canada    Bronze – Sweden

Men’s Ice Hockey
Gold – Canada    Silver– USA         Bronze – Russia


Notes: USA won the ’80 gold medal with a 4-2 victory over Finland two days later. The Soviet Union defeated Sweden 9-2 to take the silver. The game was broadcast on tape delay in the US, so I was actually watching an event that already happened. US defenseman Ken Morrow (on ice during the final moments in the clip above) won the Stanley Cup three months later with the New York Islanders, and again in 1981, 1982 and 1983 with Swedish teammates Anders Kallur, Tomas Jonsson and Stefan Persson.



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