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Miracle in Rossland

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

In honour of the start of the Winter Olympics, here’s a gallery of photos I took on March 3, 2003 during filming in Rossland of the Kurt Russell movie Miracle. Columbia Ave. was transformed into 1980 Lake Placid, New York and Washington St. became Wabasha, Minnesota.

The latter must have been an inside joke: although US hockey coach Herb Brooks, whom Russell portrayed, was head coach of the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team in the 1970s, Wabasha (current population 2,500) had nothing to do with the Miracle on Ice, wherein the Americans stunned a heavily-favoured Russian squad in an Olympic semi-final match.

Wabasha was, however, the setting of the films Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men — though they weren’t actually filmed in Wabasha, and only one scene was even filmed nearby. Other Minnesota towns stood in for Wabasha. (Similarly, the 2000 movie MVP: Most Valuable Primate, about a hockey-playing chimp, is set in Nelson but was actually filmed in Squamish and Vancouver.)

The one legacy of Miracle in Rossland is the terrific mural on the side of the Bank of Montreal building, which looks so good that I’m sure it’s fooled more than one person into thinking it’s actually a phantom advertisement from the early 20th century. But I don’t know what the mural was modelled after — was there an actual Berchowitz and Epstein in Lake Placid, or was it another in-joke?

It was truly astonishing how much effort went into the set decoration, considering that Rossland appears for only a few minutes in the finished film.

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