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Cool reception: Helmet from Jamaican bobsled team fails to sell at U.S. auction

FILE PHOTO - Members of the Jamaican four-man bobsled team walk up the course after wiping out during a run at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, in a Dec. 23, 1988. A helmet from the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary wasn't the hot commodity it was expected to be at a Boston auction.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Morris Lamont, File
July 29, 2016 - 1:19 PM

CALGARY - A helmet from the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Winter Olympics wasn't the hot commodity it was expected to be at a Boston auction.

The asking price of US$3,500 for the yellow headgear worn by Jamaican bobsled pilot Dudley Stokes during the team's final qualifier in Calgary wasn't met.

A pair of orange-and-pink ski goggles worn by Stokes during an earlier heat didn't generate much interest either.

"Some of the Calgary Olympic items didn't meet their reserves and were passed. They didn't achieve the price that we had received earlier this year. The Dudley Stokes helmet was sold after the auction," said Robert Livingston of RR Auction in Boston.

"Many times after an auction, when we don't achieve the price that the consigner was expecting, people will either contact us or the consigner will lower their expectations and ask us to make the after-auction sale, which was the case at this time."

Trained by two-time U.S. Olympian Howard Siler, five Jamaicans who had never experienced snow before used a makeshift, rock-weighted bobsled to practise their push starts under the tropical sun of Kingston.

The team competed at a World Cup and finished a surprising 35th out of 41 teams. That earned an invite to Calgary where they quickly became the talk of the Olympic town.

The story was adapted by Walt Disney into the hit 1993 film "Cool Runnings" that starred Canadian actor and comedian John Candy.

The helmet in the auction went to a private collector in the United States for less than the asking price, said Livingston.

"Talk about undervalued. I have to tell you that Cool Runnings helmet to me was the real hidden gem of the auction and I'm very surprised that it didn't go for more. It's something that in the future will go for a lot more," Livingston said.

"You've just got to get the right bidder. I know we were all over Canada with it and I'm very surprised and disappointed it was sold to someone in the United States."

What did sell from the 1988 Olympics was a bronze participation medal that went for US$406 and a sweater worn on screen by U.S. broadcaster and television producer John Morgan, who had a cameo in the 1993 movie. The clothing fetched US$490.

The Stokes helmet came complete with scuffs and abrasions from the sled's prolonged and violent skid down Canada Olympic Park's bobsled track during the final qualifier.

"This was the helmet Dudley Stokes wore during the Olympics and bares the scratch marks from the famous crash when he could not get his head and helmet back in the sled," said Alan Howat, the 1988 Jamaican team captain and manager, in a letter that accompanied the sale.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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