1980 LAKE PLACID OLYMPIC HOCKEY GOLD MEDAL SELLS
The E-Sylum (11/7/2010)
1980 U.S. Hockey "Miracle on Ice" Olympic Gold Medal Presented to Mark Wells. They finally made a movie about it in 2004. It had to be done, and it's frankly surprising that it took almost a quarter century for "Miracle" to hit the big screen, Kurt Russell providing star power as coach Herb Brooks. If it hadn't actually happened, Hollywood screenwriters should have dreamt it up, the archetypical David vs. Goliath story, a ragtag band of American amateurs facing the Soviet elite, set against the backdrop of the Cold War. But one wonders if the audiences could have possibly suspended disbelief during the glorious third act if it wasn't actually a true story.
Everybody knows that the 1980 US Olympic Hockey round-robin match between the USSR and the US was expected to be a painfully lopsided affair. Of the twenty players who made the final roster of the US team, only one had prior Olympic experience. The rest were primarily college kids, nine of them members of Herb Brooks' University of Minnesota team. Four more were from Boston University. The Soviet players were classed as amateurs, but were effectively supported by the Soviet government which provided them with world-class training facilities and unlimited professional-level team play. Three of the Soviet team members, goalie Vladislav Tretiak and forwards Valeri Kharlamov and Viacheslav Fetisov, are today enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Not a single player on the American team can boast that distinction.
Three times the Soviets took the lead, and three times the Americans battled back to even footing. The game-winner would come with ten minutes left to play, when Mike Eruzione, left undefended in the high slot, scored the fourth goal for the home team, sending the Lake Placid crowd of 8,500 into hysterics. But nothing could match the decibel level as sportcaster Al Michaels gave his famous, game-closing call:
"Eleven seconds, you've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?...YES!"
Though the United States team would need one more come from behind victory, against Finland, to clinch the top level of the Olympic podium, their victory over the seemingly invincible Russian juggernaut is widely recognized at the greatest moment in American sports history. Never before has the ultimate symbol of that victory been made available to the collecting public before now, as Heritage Auction Galleries proudly presents the 1980 Olympic Ice Hockey Gold Medal presented to twenty-one year old center Mark Wells for his contributions to the historic cause.
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, Mark Wells." The medal measures three and one-eighth inches in diameter, and hangs from its original powder blue and white ribbon.
The medal exhibits light handling wear and the ribbon some minor staining, but certainly nothing which could begin to distract from its immeasurable appeal. It is accompanied by Wells' lengthy and eloquent letter of provenance, which closes with the words, "I hope you cherish this medal as much as I have. I personally cannot think of another piece of memorabilia that has had such a profound effect on the sports world than this precious keepsake."