Ed Belfour auctions Olympic gold medal

Ed Belfour
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Ed Belfour is preparing to give up his Olympic gold medal for an opportunity to go into business with his son.

The medal the Hockey Hall of Fame goalie won representing Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games is one of 66 pieces of personal NHL memorabilia Belfour has put up for auction. The objective is to raise enough seed money for Belfour and his 26-year-old son, Dayn, to go forward with their plan to open Belfour Distilleries.

“It’s definitely hard to part ways with some of this stuff I’ve kept since high school,” Belfour said by phone from his home outside of Dallas this week.

“But I have the memories and I’ll never forget them,” he added. “This is a chance to get together with my son and start a business, the next chapter of our lives, and hopefully turn it into a world-class distillery where our bourbon is known all over the world.”

The Belfours have spent the past two years researching bourbons and whiskeys and establishing a business plan. They hope to have the distillery open within the next year.

The auction is being held online and conducted by Quebec-based Classic Auctions, which specializes in selling hockey memorabilia. Bids can be submitted through Tuesday night.

Belfour’s items include a jersey he wore in helping the Dallas Stars beat Buffalo in six games to win the 1999 Stanley Cup title. There are also game-worn masks, autographed jerseys and sticks, and the 13-inch replica of the Vezina Trophy Belfour won in 1993.

The prize of the lot is the Olympic medal, touted by Classic Auctions as being the first 2002 men’s hockey gold medal to be placed up for auction. As of Friday, the medal has attracted a high bid of $25,901.

The medal comes in a box that includes the signatures of IOC President Jacques Rogge and former U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who was President of the Salt Lake City Olympic committee.

The medal means plenty to Belfour even though he never saw game action as Canada’s third-stringer behind Martin Brodeur and Curtis Joseph. It was a team that beat the United States 5-2 and win Canada its first men’s hockey gold medal in 50 years.

The trouble for Belfour is that he accumulated so much memorabilia that it no longer fit his trophy cases.

“It was collecting dust in the attic,” said Belfour, who consulted with former Stars teammate Brett Hull and his father Bobby, who also sold items through Classic Auctions. “It makes me feel good that my stuff will end up in some very good collectors’ hands.”

Classic Auctions President Marc Juteau said Belfour’s items have generated interest because of the gold medal and also because goalies of Belfour’s caliber don’t often place items up for auction.

“There’s only a few goalies who have parted with their memorabilia so far,” Juteau said. “And that includes nice goalie masks that were used in the NHL. Those are quite scarce and sought-after.”

Belfour was a two-time Vezina winner and the NHL’s 1991 rookie of the year during a 16-plus season NHL career that ended with the Florida Panthers in 2006-07. His 484 career wins rank third on the NHL list, and he led the NHL in fewest goals allowed four times.

Belfour played the 2007-08 season in Sweden before retiring.

At 50, Belfour plays hockey — defense, not goalie he said — in a men’s league in Texas.

And he still thinks he can defend the goal if some NHL team gave him a shot.

“Oh, I can play tomorrow,” Belfour said, breaking into a laugh before correcting himself. “No, I might need a couple of days to get back in shape a little bit.”

MORE: Miracle on Ice player, father auction Olympic gold medals

U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new uptempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

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IOC looks for ways Russian athletes ‘who do not support war’ could compete as neutrals

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GENEVA (AP) — Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday.

“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding, “We have to think about the future.”

Most sports followed IOC advice in February and banned Russian teams and athletes from their events within days of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.

With Russians starting to miss events that feed into qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, an exile extending into next year could effectively become a wider ban from those Games.

In an interview in Rome, Bach hinted at IOC thinking after recent rounds of calls with Olympic stakeholders asked for views on Russia’s pathway back from pariah status.

“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” he said. “On the other hand — and here comes our dilemma — this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”

Bach did not suggest how athletes could express opposition to the war when dissent and criticism of the Russian military risks jail sentences of several years.

Some Russian athletes publicly supported the war in March and are serving bans imposed by their sport’s governing body.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Yevgeny Rylov appeared at a pro-war rally attended by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak displayed a pro-military “Z” symbol on his uniform at an international event.

Russian former international athletes are being called up for military service in the current mobilization, according to media reports. They include former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev and soccer player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

Russians have continued to compete during the war as individuals in tennis and cycling, without national symbols such as flags and anthems, even when teams have been banned.

Bach told Corriere della Sera it was the IOC’s mission to be politically neutral and “to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity.”

“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” he suggested. “We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever.”

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