Lake Placid's Olympic Legacy Began in 1932, Continues With a 'Miracle'

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- In its early days, Lake Placid had carved a niche out for itself as a summer must-visit.

"Whether it’s true or not I don’t know, but they say vacations started because of Lake Placid," said Jon Lundin of the Olympic Regional Development Authority. "The word vacation is where people vacated the cities and came to Lake Placid to get away from the oppressive summer heat."

But in Lake Placid, the summer is only so long. That's why the famed Dewey family built a winter resort there, the Lake Placid Club.  It had winter sport venues so grand that the village was awarded the 1932 Olympic Games.

"We bragged about being the winter sports capital of the world," longtime Lake Placid Radio Station Owner Jim Rogers said.

MORE VIDEO: Many of the 1980 Olympic Games venues are still in use today, and the public can try many of them.

For a while, Lake Placid survived off of those games, but by the time the 1960s and 70s came around, it was like much of the nation, just barely getting by.

“People had forgotten that, it was at that point over 40 years that Lake Placid had last hosted an Olympic Games, so I think it was losing its identity as an Olympic destination," Lundin said. "Then 1980 came about."

It was an effort to help rebuild the sports venues and bring people back to Lake Placid that ended up with another Olympic games and the greatest moment in our sports history.

The 1980 Olympic games.  That hockey game.  The American college kids beating the mighty Russians.  The Miracle on Ice.

"I don't think anything since then, you can say it was a miracle, but at that moment, it was for me," 1980 US Hockey Player John Harrington said.

“I saw stuff that happened in those games, with those players that they looked at themselves and asked, ‘How did I do that?’” player Mark Wells added.

Many people forget the US didn't win the gold that night.  They had to beat Finland two days later.

“Had the team won an Olympic Bronze medal or an Olympic Silver, what would the effect be?  Would it be the ‘Miracle on Ice’?  Well no.  Would Lake Placid be on the center stage that it is now?  I don’t know.  I kind of like the way the story ended, that story ended, and the way that it continues today," Lundin said.

Looking to relive the miracle again? Check out our 30 minute special on the "Miracle on Ice Reunion" here. We have in-depth interviews along with bonus stories on the game itself and the future of Lake Placid possibly hosting the Olympics once again.