It was February 1980. America was suffering through high unemployment, inflation, and the energy and Iran hostage crises. Two months earlier, the Soviet Union heightened Cold War tensions by invading Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, in Lake Placid, New York, the men’s U.S. Olympic hockey team prepared to take the ice against the Soviet Union, who were gold medal winners in the four previous Olympic Winter Games. Whereas the Soviet players were essentially professionals, playing nearly year-round, the American squad was composed entirely of amateurs.