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Eric Heiden of the United States wins five gold medals in speedskating.

As the Winter Games reconvened for the second time in Lake Placid, N.Y., relations between East and West were in a deep freeze, after the December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets. The United States felt it had to check Soviet Russian aggressiveness somewhere. And it did. Inside a hockey arena.


 Not a whole lot was expected of the U.S. hockey team during the 1980 Games. Things changed decidedly, however, after the United States earned a hard-fought tie with Sweden, and scored a stunning 7-3 victory over a strong Czech team. In a dramatic showdown with the Soviet squad, U.S. team captain Mike Eruzione's third-period goal gave the Americans a 4-3 victory. Joyous bedlam ensued, and the United States earned a trip to the gold medal game with Finland, which it won.

 Eric Heiden gave Americans even more to cheer about at Lake Placid, as he turned one magnificent performance after another in speedskating, winning the gold medal in all five events. He also set new Olympic records for the 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m and 5,000m, and a world record in the 10,000m. Heiden's sister Elizabeth picked up a bronze medal in the women's 3000m speedskating event.

 Alpine skier Hanni Wenzel won the first gold medal for the tiny European nation of Liechtenstein, when she finished first in the slalom and giant slalom. She also won a silver in the downhill.

 Legendary skier Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden ruled the men's Alpine events with gold medals in the slalom and giant slalom.

 In a spirited competition, British men's figure skater Robin Cousins emerged as the gold medalist from a talented field that included three U.S. hopefuls: Charles Tickner (the eventual bronze medalist), David Santee (fourth place) and a young fifth-place finisher named Scott Hamilton.

AttendanceMale AthletesFemale AthletesMost-MedaledU.S. Rank
37 nations833 234E. Germany (23)Third

Source: Knight-Ridder/Tribune

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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