Winter 2020 Catalog Auction Ending Feb 22
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 2/23/2020

There may be a no bigger moment in American sports than the United States hockey team’s victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics. Known forever-after as the “Miracle on Ice,” the US team’s win came at the height of Cold War tensions between the two superpowers, and the story of the American amateurs overcoming the heavily favored Russian pros became a modern David vs Goliath tale. And as well-known as the US win over the Soviets is today, few recall that the dramatic win came not in the Soviet game, but in the final game against Finland. The Gold Medal deciding game was played two days later against the Finnish team, a squad thought to be just as talented as the Russians. With the “round robin” style tournament in effect in the 1980 Games, a US loss would have actually given the Gold to the Soviets, despite being beaten by the US in the medal round. The Soviets defeated Sweden in their final game later that day.

This prediction of Finland’s prowess unfolded early in the Gold Medal deciding game, with the Finns taking a quick 2-1 lead. Despite the heroics of the US team, Finland relinquished just a single goal through two periods. In the locker room, US coach Herb Brooks purportedly delivered one of the most succinct and to-the-point pep talks in sports history. Facing his players, Brooks was said to have stated, "If you lose this game, you'll take it to your fucking graves." With that, the coach turned to leave, but paused, looked over his shoulder and repeated, “To your fucking graves.” While it wasn’t the stuff of Knute Rockne’s “Win one for the Gipper,” Brooks’ declaration had its effect as his team steadily battled back in the third period. The catalyst for the US comeback was the team’s center, Steve Christoff.

Heading into the Olympics Steve Christoff was considered by many the most important player on the team.  This makes sense as he had just won the Hobey Baker award for the best college hockey player in the country. Christoff had been one of the most sought-after high school hockey players upon graduation in 1976. He played for the University of Minnesota from 1976 to 1979, leading the Gophers in scoring his sophomore and junior years and scored his team’s game winning goal in their 1979 NCAA Championship victory. Though drafted by the Minnesota North Stars, Christoff put his pro career on hold in order to represent his country in the 1980 Olympics.

During the Olympics Christoff did not disappoint as he had been the most successful over all Olympics of any player in the tournament not just the United States Olympic team, having more points than any other player during the entire tournament (including Olympic qualifiers). The culmination of his amateur career came in that Gold Medal deciding game, when Christoff scored the first goal of the game which tied the game at one in the second period. Finland would answer shortly after that to take a 2-1 lead. Team USA would score early in the third period to tie the game at two and then scored again to take a 3-2 lead. Christoff again stepped up, earning an assist to Mark Johnson in the team’s final goal for a 4-2, a shorthanded goal, and a comeback win for the Gold. According to Team USA’s goaltender Jim Craig, “Steve Christoff was one of the leaders of our team. Steve also had an excellent professional career. And Steve liked the big games. In fact, I believe the Gold Medal game verse Finland was his best Game of the tournament when he scored the game tying goal and assisted on the final goal.” In ensuing medal presentation, the captains of the American, Soviet and Swedish teams stood on the podium to receive their Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. In a show of the solidarity and teamwork which characterized the 1980 US hockey team, captain Mike Eruzione emotionally invited the whole team to join him on the podium. This stunning Gold Medal is the one awarded to Steve Christoff that memorable day in Lake Placid.

The medal was created by legendary jeweler Tiffany & Co. The obverse features the iconic Olympic torch and rings surmounting the mountains of Lake Placid with “XIII OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES” in raised letters. The reverse boasts a pinecone and branch with “LAKE PLACID 1980” in raised letters alongside the game’s logo. “ICE HOCKEY STEVE CHRISTOFF” is engraved below, forever linking this historic Gold with the man who helped make it possible. Measuring 3 1/8” in diameter, the engraving and surface detail remain sharp, the gold clear and bright. Christoff subsequently removed the ribbon and clasp in order to display the medal, but this in no way affects the display quality or historical significance of this piece. It would be an understatement to call this an extraordinary opportunity to obtain the fruits of what undoubtedly is the greatest moment in American sports. Christoff‘s gold medal is expected to sell for considerably more than any of the gold medals that have been sold to date in fact previously, this exact medal sold for $540,000. This medal comes with a detailed letter of provenance from Steve Christoff and the original purchase receipt when this medal was previously sold at auction.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $100,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $312,000.00
Number Bids: 13
Auction closed on Sunday, February 23, 2020.
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