The Miracle on Ice, the 1972 Olympic Men's Basketball Final, Dan Gable vs Ruslan Ashraliev; these are all examples of the extreme competitiveness in sports that took place between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Arguably one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history, the "Miracle on Ice" refers to the semi final hockey match in the 1980 Olympics between the heavily favored soviets and a young group of collegiate hockey players that represented the United States.
"U.S.A... U.S.A.." the chant rang throughout the arena located in Lake Placid. After a late goal by Mike Eruzione to take the lead and a solid save near the net by Jim Craig, America had upset the legendary Soviet team; and shocked the entire world. The game has gone down as ultimately the greatest upset in sporting history.
Another famous rivalry game took place between the Soviets and the Americans in the Men's Olympic Basketball final during the 1972 Summer Olympics, this one with a much more controversial ending.
With seconds left in the game, American player Doug Collins picked up a brutal foul from one of the Soviets. He went to the line to shoot two, with the Americans down by 1. Collins makes the first; tie game. The second free throw is good as well- America up by one, 50-49! The Russians inbound the ball with three seconds left, but the buzzer sounds and officials award the Russian team a timeout the say the "had not noticed" before. The clock is reset and the Russians inbound once more. They are able to put up a wild shot, but it does not fall. The Americans have appeared to win again. But they don't. Officials once again replay the final seconds, saying the clock was not properly reset. Now, on their third possession, the Russians inbound all the way down the floor to their 6'10" Center Alexander Belov, who beats two American defenders and puts up the game winning lay up. Soviets win.
Another famous Soviet/U.S. Match up, although fictional, took place between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago. Two nations collide, and the 5'10" Italian Stallion takes on the Cold War and wins. The 1985 production of "Rocky IV" highlighted the true competitiveness between the two nations.
Deep in Russian territory, Rocky is faced with seemingly unbeatable, impenetrable Ivan Drago. Standing at a whoppping 6'5" and a muscular 261 pounds, the Soviet Boxer is the definition of peak physical perfection. But the Americans determination and heart prove to be too much for the Soviet, and after absorbing shot after shot from Drago, Balboa finally breaks the Russian's defense, ultimately winning over the hostile crowd.
Whether it's the improbable story of Rocky Bolboa taking on a whole nation and winnning, the true "Miracle on Ice", or the controversial robbing of America's gold medal in the 1972 Mens basketball final, the Soviet/U.S. Rivalry is one highlighted by extreme greatness and perseverance. It is one that proves that "great moments are born from great opportunities."