Olympics becoming more political, 'Miracle on Ice' captain says


'Miracle on Ice' hero Mike Eruzione on politics at Olympics

Captain of the 1980 U.S. hockey team on how politics impact the Olympics.

The U.S men’s hockey team was no match for the Russians, who easily delivered a 4-0 loss on Saturday during the Olympic games in PyeongChang.

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Mike Eruzione, former captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that defeated the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, said the Russians this time around were simply “the better team.”

“This is an awfully good Russian team,” he told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto. “They’ll get another shot at it, hopefully. But this is just one game that didn't go well.”

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have been particularly icy as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign.

On Friday, a grand jury in the Mueller probe charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The Russians are accused of breaking U.S. laws to interfere with American elections and the political process in order to support President Trump.

“The games have changed a lot of ways,” Eruzione said. “It’s a little more political than it used to be. Politics seem to always get involved with the Olympics now.”

But the essence of the Olympics, he said, remains the same: athletes wanting to compete for their country. Even in 1980, in the midst of a constant threat of nuclear war, “we were playing ice hockey.”

In 1980, the Soviet Union, with a team compiled mostly of professional players with a lot of experience playing hockey internationally, was the favorite to win the gold medal in Lake Placid, New York.

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The U.S., however, consisted mostly of amateur players who had been thrown together six months prior to the game to practice, Eruzione said. When the U.S. went on to cinch the gold, it turned into one of the most iconic moments in U.S. sports.

This year, players from the National Hockey League (NHL) are no longer allowed to play in the Olympics, per a league ruling last April, so the U.S. men’s hockey team includes mostly college players, former NHL players and Americans who play professionally in Europe.

“It’s a whole different, different format. These players only practiced together for a few days, and now they’re trying to become a team as quickly as possible,” Eruzione said. “With the NHL players, the skill level is a lot greater, I think, than what we’re seeing now. But these players are still awfully good players.”