Igor Larionov won gold medals in hockey with the Soviet National Team in the 1984 and 1988 Winter Games. In 1980, though, he was a spectator, four years away from Olympic glory, and a world away from Lake Placid, where Team USA’s team of amateur hockey players shocked the Soviet Union to win the men’s hockey gold medal.
The American win was nicknamed the “Miracle on Ice,” and is regarded as one of the biggest upsets in sports history. On Igor Larionov’s Triple Overtime Radio, Larionov recalled watching the game in disbelief, and discussed what happened in the aftermath.
“It was kind of a close game,” Larionov remembered,” but I knew there was nobody, nobody can beat that [Soviet] team. So then all the sudden, [the game is tied] 3-3. And [then the U.S. took a lead,] 4-3. That was shock for everybody. When you saw that and you see the young players from the States beating one of the best ever teams put together in the Soviet Union … couldn’t believe it happened.”
Alyonka Larionov, Igor’s daughter, asked who he felt was to blame for what was akin to a national disaster.
“You can’t really point the finger at anybody [...] but the biggest mistake was made after the first period when [Soviet goalie Vladislav] Tretiak was pulled” by head coach Viktor Tikhonov, Larionov said. “[Tikhinov] started to panic.”
Sergei Starikov, a member of that Soviet national hockey team in 1980 that lost to the United States, spoke with Larionov about repercussions for the players following the loss.
Larionov, whose arrival in the National Hockey League with the Vancover Canucks in the 1989-90 season opened the door for Russian players to play in the United States, later recalled the financial situation of the Soviet Union’s national players in the 1980s.
“After eight seasons playing with the Red Army team and the national team, I had $5,000 as a two-time Olympic champion and four-time World champion” when he arrived in Vancouver on Aug. 16, 1989, Larionov said. “And I was actually, I thought, the richest guy in Russia, having $5,000 in my pocket.”
Igor Larionov’s Triple Overtime Radio, a SiriusXM series featuring the NHL Hall of Famer describe, in his own words, his days as a Soviet star and his revolutionary struggle for the freedom to play in the United States, debuted Feb. 7 on SiriusXM Sports Zone. You can listen to the special on SiriusXM On Demand.
For a free 30-day trial, click here http://bit.ly/1hLC8LU.