Vancouver View -- Memorabilia Values Rise and Fall Post-Olympics

(ATR) Thousands of dollars are changing hands for hockey pucks used in the Vancouver Olympics, the price some people will pay to preserve their memories of the Games. More on the market for Vancouver collectibles in this report by Karen Rosen.

Let the Bidding Begin!

A hockey puck used in the gold-medal game between Canada and the United States fetched more than $5,400 on eBay last week. A Canada Olympic jersey signed by Sidney Crosby, who scored the game-winning goal against the U.S., sold for about $6,400 while a jersey Crosby wore in the game against Norway went for more than $7,400.

These items are providing quite a post-Games revenue stream for VANOC.

Gameday Auction, a company based in Vancouver and Scottsdale, Ariz., is an official licensee for the Vancouver Olympics. Using the eBay ID “Vancouver2010auction,” it calls itself, “your only source for official 2010 Winter Games memorabilia”.

“For the first time in the history of the Games, some of the most coveted items used during competition including medal podia, medal trays, pucks, ski gates and more are available for purchase. Own a piece of Olympic history today by bidding on these unique items,” the company says in its listings.

Other items are being auctioned on eBay as fundraisers for Haiti earthquake relief, the family of the luge athlete from Georgia who was killed on a training run and to raise money for a former U.S. ski technician with cancer.

Gameday Auction keeps about 180 items for sale at any one time, and items are added as other auctions end.

The auctions began even before the Olympics did, with more than 700 items sold since Feb. 11, the day before the Opening Ceremony.

The hockey pucks were removed from action and bagged with almost surgical precision, along with a tag saying the period in which they were used. Pucks come from the gold-medal game as well as earlier rounds featuring teams such as Slovakia and Norway. The cheapest pucks have gone for about $150.

Many pucks are also signed by top Canadian and U.S. players. VANOC and Gameday Auction did not return phone or e-mail messages from Around the Rings, so it is unclear if the athletes knew they were signing memorabilia that would then be sold to the highest bidder.

Other auctions include game-worn jerseys, most selling in the $300-400 range, and ski gate flags, which are going for more than $500. Signed programs, signed replica tickets and signed replica ski bibs are among the cheaper items. A word to the wise: If the ski bib has the number “1” on it, it probably was not worn by Shaun White. Actually, the halfpipe gold medalist wore No. 5.

Medal podiums and trays have not yet made an appearance.

Selling for Charitable Causes

While VANOC is cashing in, other items are being auctioned off for more altruistic reasons.

The race suit used by USA luge athlete Tony Benshoof as he slid to an eighth place finish at the Games was at $1,800 with nine hours to go in an eBay auction.

According to the description, 100 percent of the final sale price will be donated to the family of Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed on the day the Olympics began. Directions for donating to Nodar's family were provided by the Olympic Committee of the Republic of Georgia.

“The US Luge Team sends its condolences and thoughts to the family and friends of Nodar Kumaritashvili at this difficult time. He will be missed.”

The suit will be signed by the entire 2010 USA Olympic Luge Team and has the U.S. team's popular and colorful flame design, including the USA "Look of the Team" Olympic logo on the leg.

U.S. skiing star Bode Miller, who won gold, silver and bronze medals in Vancouver, has donated the helmet he wore in the Olympic slalom to raise money for Pam Warman, a former U.S. Ski Team technician who was recently diagnosed with cancer. The helmet was at $2,600 with 27 bids with five days to go.

A press release from U.S. Skiing has been added to the auction description, which helped verify the authenticity of the helmet. Prior to the release, the seller only had this explanation:

“I do not have a photo of Bode signing the helmet. Sorry. I was rooming with him at the Olympics and he gave it to me to put in the auction. My name is Jake Zamansky. I also raced the Giant Slalom and volunteered to help raise money for our dear friend Pam in her efforts to beat Cancer. I am in Contact with Bode and will ask him for a letter of authenticity. But I promise it is the real thing!”

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres gave gold medalist Lindsey Vonn a set of skis – covered with photos of Ellen – and poles, which Vonn signed en route to eBay and America Red Cross HaitiRelief. With four days left, the skis had 30 bids and were up to $1,575.

Participation Medals Popular on eBay

For seasoned Olympic collectors, the most coveted item is the athletes’ participation medal. The medals, which are silver-toned and come in a white box, are 60 mm in diameter. There is also a smaller – 40 mm – medal which was given to media and volunteers. They have the same design on one side, with the Inukshuk and slogan “With Glowing Hearts Des Plus Brilliants Exploits,” but the reverses are different. The athletes’ medal has the wavy pattern similar to the one on the winners’ medal and the media/volunteer medal is a busier design. The media/volunteer medal also seems to have a different strike.

The athletes’ participation medals are selling for $400-500. Some of the media/volunteer medals have also approached $300, but that may be because some buyers aren’t aware of the difference. There are also Paralympic medals of both sizes with the Paralympic logo in place of the Inukshuk.

Collecting the Games

A search of the words “Vancouver Olympic” finds 42,000 items sold on eBay since Feb. 18 and 11,600 currently for sale.

The most expensive sold items were a pair of gold medal men’s hockey tickets that went for $10,000 behind the bench.

Vancouver Olympic torches are plentiful on eBay and usually sell from about $1,500 to $3,300, although one went for $750. The seller of that torch may have kicked himself for starting it too low.

A Coca-Cola bottle pin set sold for $688 and an IOC session badge with the white IOC ribbon went for $384.

A large Swiss NOC pin sold for $231.

But prices for Olympic pins can drop faster than a bobsled on the Whistler track. An NBC guest pin with the Gastown clock that sold for $152 on Feb. 23 went for $26 on March 1.

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Written by Karen Rosen.

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