Mark Pavelich's 1980 Olympic Gold Medal goes for $262,900. Only the second one to be auctioned off.
Why would an American Olympic gold medalist place their trophy up for auction?
Why did the medal fetch $262,900?
In 1980’s Winter Olympics, the U.S. men’s hockey team made history by defeating the expected Soviet Union champions 4 to 3. Before National Hockey Leaguers joined Team USA, the U.S. team consisted of amateur and collegiate players. Beating the Soviet Union, who previously won the past six out of seven Winter Olympic Games, upset all expectations and cemented the phrase “Miracle on Ice.”
“Sports Illustrated” named “Miracle” as the Top Sports moment in the 20th century. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) declared the event to be the greatest international hockey moment of the century. IIHF games determine Olympics brackets, so the honor holds a lot of weight to hockey players and fans alike.
Victory was not easily won.
The Soviet Union team had not lost a gold medal since 1964, so the toppling raised a lot of eyebrows and rallied a strong moment of American national pride. American players managed to hold off some ice hockey’s most legendary players, like Hockey Hall of Famers Vladislav Tretiak, Valeri Kharlamov, and Viacheslav Fetisov. At the time, Tretiak was considered to be the world’s best goaltender while Kharlamov and Fetisov played left winger and defenseman, respectively. After all, the USSR players had trained for the Olympics numerous times, so the unequal skill and experience balance made the world pause as the U.S. team denied their opponent a chance for seventh gold medal victory. America’s dominance over the Soviet Union players changed the rivalry.
In 2004, Disney’s “Miracle” skated on the creation and championship of the American team. Herb Brooks, Team USA’s head coach and played by Kurt Russell, tells the group of men they are to be a team, to work as a team, and let go of anything outside of winning the gold medal. Later, the team would be Finland in the finals to earn the gold medal. A rousing speech that motivated players and fans alike.
Pavelich’s medal is only the second to be auctioned off. Mark Wells’ gold medal earned $310,700 in 2010. The gold medal holds history through sports and as a relic to the Cold War that raged between the countries for nearly two decades. Victory for the Americans boosted national morale.