The most significant "Miracle" medal ever offered1980 U.S. Hockey "The Miracle on Ice" Olympic Gold Medal Presented to Steve Christoff.
"The old saying in life is that everyone will have '15 minutes of fame,' one moment in their lives where they and no one else will shine above all for a very brief moment. I had my 15 minutes in February of 1980, but that moment will not fade away as so many others have. The 'Miracle on Ice' will live on in my heart forever."
So begins the lengthy and compelling letter of provenance from the star forward of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team Steve Christoff, one of twenty scrappy young amateurs to earn a Gold Medal in an event that most historians consider the high water mark of American athletics. Presented for the first time in an auction format is that very Gold Medal, just the second ever offered to the collecting public.
Heritage was fortunate enough to present the first as well, the shimmering symbol of achievement awarded to Christoff's Lake Placid teammate Mark Wells. That Gold Medal drove bidding to a solid $310,700 result in November 2010. While affiliation with this ultimate underdog story alone assures athletic immortality, one must point to the central role that Christoff played in the team's success, and his subsequent service to the National Hockey League, when comparing his medal to Wells'. In short, the offered Gold Medal must be considered the more significant of the two by a very considerable margin if measurement of the respective players' contributions to the Miracle factors into the calculation.
Twice Christoff found the back of the net in the Lake Placid tournament, first in a blow-out victory over Romania, and most notably to pull even with Finland in the Gold Medal match after fifteen minutes trailing due to an early Jukka Porvari goal. His short-handed assist to Mark Johnson concluded the American scoring, icing the game in the final minutes in what would conclude as a four to two victory. Had there been an MVP Award issued for the Gold Medal contest, Christoff would surely have been the recipient.
After the formality of a Bronze medal match between the Soviet Union and Sweden concluded, Christoff stood on the podium as the National Anthem played with the presented Gold Medal slung proudly about his neck. Crafted by the illustrious "Tiffany & Co.," the extraordinary prize offers world class aesthetics befitting its historic importance. The obverse provides a raised torch framed between the words "XIII Olympic Winter Games" and the Olympic rings. The reverse utilizes conifer imagery at right to balance the raised text "Lake Placid 1980" and the engraved lettering "Ice Hockey, Steve Christoff." The medal measures three and one-eighth inches in diameter. Christoff removed the clasp and ribbon for display, but their absence in no way distracts from the visual or historical appeal.
The twenty-fourth overall pick in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft, Christoff joined the Minnesota North Stars after the close of the Olympics, no longer needing to guard his amateur status, scoring eight goals and fifteen points in the final twenty NHL games. The next season he was one of the team's top performers in the 1981 Stanley Cup Finals, his Stars falling to the New York Islanders. He retired from the sport after the 1983-84 season, but was recognized as one of the fifty greatest players in University of Minnesota hockey history as part of a "Legends on Ice" tribute in 2001.
But, of course, the Miracle on Ice would always be his legacy, and his reward for victory in those glorious Winter Games stands among the most important and desirable sports collectibles ever offered for sale. Letter of provenance from Steve Christoff.
1980 U.S. Hockey "The Miracle on Ice" Olympic Gold Medal Presented to Steve Christoff.
*A donation of $100 to the American Red Cross is required to attend the Live auction.
Guide Value or Estimate: $400,000 - up.
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