scott hamilton

‘It Really Was Magical’: Olympian Remembers 1980 Winter Games

Lake Placid is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the village hosting the Winter Olympic Games

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A special reunion is underway this week in northern New York, marking 40 years since the Winter Olympic Games put a small village in the international spotlight.

“It’s always fun to come back,” said figure skating legend Scott Hamilton, who arrived at Vermont’s Burlington International Airport Monday, ahead of a performance Tuesday in neighboring New York.

Hamilton was on Team USA in 1980, and served as the flag bearer for the opening ceremony, when Lake Placid hosted the Winter Olympics—an event forever etched in sports history for the “Miracle on Ice,” when the U.S. men’s hockey team defeated the Soviet Union.

This week, Lake Placid is marking the 40th anniversary of the XIII Olympic Winter Games, with a series of celebrations.

Among the events, Hamilton and 10 other figure skaters who competed in 1980 will give a special show, called “Dream On: The 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Figure Skating Reunion Gala,” presented by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee at Lake Placid’s Olympic Center.

Additionally, Hamilton, a cancer survivor, will hold a fundraiser for cancer research and to support patients.

Click here for more information on Tuesday’s events

Hamilton—who’d go on to win figure skating gold in the ‘84 games—says he remembers Lake Placid most for the way the Olympics still had a small-town neighborly feel, before today’s era of multibillion-dollar TV deals and sponsorships.

“It really was magical,” the famous athlete remembered.

NECN asked Hamilton what meaning the Olympics hold to him today.

“The Olympics takes on this really gigantic image of sport—and it is,” Hamilton responded. “There’s no other organization or event or anything where the world comes together in peace to celebrate all the things that we have in common, not the things that drive us apart. I love the Olympic movement—I think it’s important, and it’s just crazy that I played a small part in that.”

Hamilton told NECN he still skates several times a week, but at 61, with his signature backflip now a memory, it’s the next generation of Olympians he focuses on watching.

NBC 5 News contributed archival news footage to this report, and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee supplied an archival photo of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team.

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