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    Father conquers the world two decades before his son's "Miracle on Ice."

    1960 U.S. Hockey Olympic Gold Medal Presented to Bill Christian. The tale is far less famous than the "Miracle" of 1980, but no less remarkable. The Americans had never beaten the Soviets, and the Canadians were even better. The American team had played poorly in the preliminary contests leading up to Squaw Valley, and the late dismissal from the team of Bob Dupuis and future "Miracle" coach Herb Brooks to make way for the Cleary brothers on the roster nearly inspired a mutiny against coach Jack Riley. The team refused to even speak to the Clearys, and did everything they could to exclude them from scrimmages. All signs pointed to disaster for the host nation.

    In the end, it was the Christian brothers who broke the tension, reaching out to the new arrivals after Bill Cleary addressed the elephant in the room, telling his new teammates, "I didn't come 3,000 miles to lose. We don't have to hug and kiss. I just want you to pass me the puck."

    The leadership of the Christians quickly brought the rest of the team around, though the obvious skill of the Clearys certainly didn't hurt. It quickly became clear to the other players that this team, though a decided underdog, had a genuine shot at shocking the world.

    The first jolt of that shock came in the meeting with the Canadians, the tournament favorites, on February 25, 1960. After unanswered American goals in the first and second period, Canada managed their own score in the third, but time would expire before they could even the contest. "It was shocking to us," said Harry Sinden, future coach of the Canadian team in the famous 1972 Summit Series. "We were probably favored by seven goals against them." Next the Americans would earn their first victory against the Soviets in the semifinals, clawing back from a two-to-one deficit to score two unanswered goals before the final buzzer.

    Bill Christian authored both, with his brother Roger assisting each.

    The Americans would then secure the Gold in a high-scoring affair with the Czechs, scoring nine times to the Silver Medalists' four, with Bill Christian assisting his brother three times. And the first U.S. Olympic hockey "miracle" was complete.

    Presented is the ultimate symbol of that glorious, improbable achievement, consigned to auction by Mr. Christian himself. The obverse features two athletes' heads in profile with "VIII Olympic Winter Games" text, the reverse the Olympic rings and motto with "Hockey Sur Glace" identifying the sport. The medal measures fifty-five millimeters (55mm) in diameter and weighs ninety-seven grams (97g.), crafted from gilt silver by Herff Jones Co. It presents without any condition faults, still housed in its original hinged wooden box. Letter of provenance from Bill Christian.

    The Bill and Dave Christian Collection

    It's often said that lightning never strikes twice, but the tale of the Christian family belies that axiom. Both father and son were key figures in two of the most dramatic and glorious underdog tales in the history of American athletics, as members of the United States Olympic Ice Hockey teams of 1960 and 1980. While the latter has become a universally recognized part of our patriotic national folklore under the heading, "The Miracle on Ice," far fewer are aware that the rag-tag band of Davids that slew the Soviet Goliath at Lake Placid was, in point of fact, a sequel to a tale of equivalent improbability and intrigue.

    Two decades before son Dave and his 1980 teammates were celebrated as American heroes of Cold War athletics, father Bill Christian, along with his brother Roger, helped the United States claim the top step of the Olympic hockey podium, a climb at Squaw Valley arguably even more arduous than that of the subsequent edition. While both father and son defied the odds to topple the USSR, only the former was required to defeat all four of the top seeds-Canada, Czechoslovakia and Sweden-en route to Gold.

    After the success of partnerships between Heritage Auctions and several key figures of the "Miracle" team-Mike Eruzione, Phil Verchota and the family of deceased Hall of Fame coach Herb Brooks among them-the Christians have employed our services to present their own Olympic treasures to the collecting community. Each lot will be accompanied by a letter of provenance from the applicable member of this elite Olympic genetic line.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2016
    20th-21st Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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