Squaw Valley 1960

Dave Christian gold medal
AP

Miracle on Ice player, father to auction Olympic gold medals

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Their Olympic gold medals and other memorabilia have been spending more time in safety deposit boxes than on display, so Bill Christian and Dave Christian decided the time was right to auction them off.

The father-son collection, currently up for online bidding, will be sold later this month.

As treasured as the items are, parting with them wasn’t as difficult as people might have assumed.

“Whether or not we have it in our hand, we still both won gold medals,” said Dave Christian, a key member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that produced the “Miracle on Ice” who went on to play 15 seasons in the NHL. “The memories and all the stories and what not, they won’t ever go away.”

Bill Christian was a star on the 1960 team that also beat the heavily favored Soviet Union on the way to winning Olympic gold. For the auction, the two of them pulled out dozens of items, from game-worn jerseys and game-used equipment to plaques, rings and trophies celebrating a host of hockey triumphs.

“Whatever we could find that had made many, many moves and been stored away,” Dave Christian said. “Better to part with it than let the moths eat it.”

The proceeds will go toward college funds for his five grandchildren, said Dave Christian, a native of Warroad, Minn., who’s now 56 years old and living in the Twin Cities area. Bill Christian, age 78, is a resident of Naples, Fla.

Heritage Auctions will conduct the public sale in New York the weekend of Feb. 20-21. Derek Grady, the company’s vice president of sports memorabilia, said the collection will bring in more than $500,000 and probably more. Dave Christian’s gold medal alone is pegged at $300,000.

Last year, Heritage Auctions handled a similar auction for the family of the late Herb Brooks, who coached Dave Christian on the 1980 team. That collection more than doubled the initial estimate, Grady said. The ring Brooks received for the 1980 Olympics fetched $113,525.

“People connect with sports, and the value of sports collectibles has shot up,” Grady said. “I think people are diversifying their investments. If you see the rise of sports memorabilia over the past 20 years, it’s been on par with or better than the stock market, if you buy quality items.”

Rarity, naturally, is the primary driver of value, and material from the 1980 Olympic team is always a big sell.

“Most people in their 40s and older remember where they were when they beat the Russians. So to get a piece of that team, whether it be a jersey, a medal or a stick, is significant to a person,” Grady said. “I think that’s why that team was so beloved. They’re a great group of guys.”

MORE: Highlights from the Miracle on Ice reunion

Jack Riley, coach of first U.S. Olympic champion hockey team, dies

Jack Riley
AP
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WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Jack Riley, the Army hockey coach who in 1960 guided the U.S. to its first Olympic gold medal in hockey, has died. He was 95.

He died Wednesday on Cape Cod, Mass., the U.S. Military Academy said. He regularly attended Army home games into his early 90s.

“He lived a great life, and although he is known as a hockey coach to many people, he was a great husband, father, grandfather and friend to all,” said son Brian Riley, the current Army hockey coach.

Jack Riley compiled a 542-343-20 record at West Point during a 36-year college coaching career that started in 1950, transforming the Black Knights into an Eastern power. He led the Black Knights to 29 winning seasons, including a school-record 28 victories during the 1983-84 season.

He was the NCAA coach of the year in 1957 and 1960. When he retired in 1986, Riley was second in NCAA victories and currently ranks 18th.

“He did have a little bit of an Irish temper at the rink and on the golf course,” Brian Riley said. “He was a fierce competitor. He did not like to lose, but at home he was a softie.”

In 1986 and 2002, Jack Riley won the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to U.S. hockey. He was elected to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998. He was a member of the Army Sports Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2004.

Riley was born in the Boston area and played hockey at Dartmouth. He and was a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic team. Twelve years later, he coached the U.S. team to the gold medal, with the Americans upsetting the Soviet Union at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games in California.

“He pushed his guys,” Brian said. “For the 1960 Olympics he brought his team back to West Point to train. He knew on paper they probably weren’t the favorites, but he was going to have the best-conditioned team and kind of skated the guys into the ice to make sure they were going to be in great shape. Obviously, they were.”

The West Point men’s hockey team has been coached by a member of the Riley family since Jack took the job in 1950. His son Rob succeeded him for 18 seasons and Brian became coach in 2004-05.

Jack Riley said of all his accomplishments he was perhaps proudest of being a Navy pilot in the Pacific theater during World War II.

“People always talk about my dad and the Olympics, but if you wanted to see a real gleam in my father’s eyes, let him talk to you about serving in the Navy and being a Navy pilot,” Brian said. “He took immense pride in serving his country.”

MORE: U.S. Olympic hockey star to play first game in two years