Before the 1980 Winter Olympics began, the US Olympic hockey team was not expected to do as well as they did. They had many powerhouse teams to beat and the team was just a bunch of college kids who wanted to play hockey. In the end, they had performed one of the greatest upsets in the history of hockey by defeating the USSR, the whom many thought of as the greatest hockey team in the world.
The Soviet Union and the United States were very distant during three decades of a nuclear arms race. Even though the two nations never directly had a battle, the Cuban Missile Crisis, amongst other things, was a result of the tension. The missile crisis began in October of 1962, when an American spy plane secretly photographed nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union in Cuba. JFK did not want the Soviet Union and Cuba to know that he had discovered the missiles, so he made his decisions very secretly. Eventually, Kennedy decided to place a ring of ships around Cuba and place missiles in Turkey. Eventually, both leaders superpowers realized the possibility of a nuclear war and agreed to a deal in which the Soviets would remove the missiles from Cuba if the US didn't invade Cuba. Even though the Soviets removed took their missiles out of Cuba and the US eventually taking their missiles out of Turkey, they (the Soviets) continued to build a more advanced military; the missile crisis was over, but the arms race was not.
In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and the lessening tension between the US and the Soviets was put on full blast. Due to this, the hockey game between the US and the Soviets in the semifinals wasn't just any game. It was during the Cold War, a period of great tension between the US and the USSR. To the people on both sides, the game was the United States versus the Soviet Union. To many people, whoever won the game won the war.
The USSR, returning from several embarrassing defeats in the mid-late 1960s and early 70s, came back better than ever, defeating everyone in their path. In 1979, the team had made the NHL all-star team look like a bunch amateurs that didn't even know where to shoot. On top of four straight Olympic gold medals, the Soviets had won the World Cup, the World Championships and had easily defeated the USA olympic team in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden two weeks before the Olympic game, 10-3. The U.S. was an ok team, but wasn't as nearly as good as the Soviets. The veterans on the team were still in their primetime, while the newer players brought a lot of energy. To top it off, they sill had Vladislav Tretiak, who was widely considered as the best goalie in the world.
Jimmy Carter once sated, "The 1980s have been born in turmoil, strife, and change. This is a time challenge to our interest and our values. And it is a time to test our wisdom and our skills." The time in which the game took place was a very low point for the US; US citizens were taken hostage, and many people...