Olympic connections endure
Express Staff Writer
no statistics on such things, but it is safe to say there are few if any
other communities in the world with such a high percentage of its citizens
who were Olympic competitors as in the Wood River Valley.
A few of
them, like Dick Fosbury, the high jumper, and Picabo Street, the
downhiller, at their best dominated their sport. Others, like Tyler Palmer
and Chuck Ferries, the slalom skiers, Sondra Van Ert, the snowboarder, and
Alison Kiesel, the cross-country skier, had days when they were the best
in the world in their disciplines.
others ¾ Pete Patterson, Jannette Johnson, Abbi Fisher-Gould, Megan
Gerety and Dick Durrance ¾ had days when they were among the first five
in the world, and on any day they were a threat to the best in the world.
Yet, in a
valley that fusses little over its celebrities, the many Olympians who
live here are assured of relative anonymity:
Betty Bell works quietly at a computer at the Idaho Mountain Express
offices in Ketchum. Bell is a dignified, private woman with gray hair and
intelligent eyes who seldom talks about herself, but who has been a vital
force and respected citizen of the Wood River Valley for half a century.
an engineer with Galena Engineering of Ketchum and Hailey. A tall man who
moves with a graceful preciseness, he is sometimes seen at city council
and county commissioner meetings speaking on behalf of his clients. On
weekends and whenever he can get away he can be seen on Bald Mountain on
Rudigoz is a fireplug of a Frenchman, who bustles around his Michel’s
Christiania Restaurant and Olympic Bar in Ketchum with the energy of 10
men and a unique style all his own.
Palmer of Hailey is a husband, father, Realtor for McCann-Daech-Fenton and
sometimes ski instructor for the Sun Valley Ski School, whose life
revolves around his family, and is one of the most respected skiers on
Palmer, Terry’s brother, is a popular, successful, hard working, and
enormously enthusiastic alpine coach for the Sun Valley Ski Education
Foundation which runs the Sun Valley Ski Team.
a well known (and liked) retired businessman who lives in Ketchum and
devotes much of his free time to the administration of the U.S. Ski Team.
When he is not in Palm Springs playing golf, Ferries can often be found on
Bald Mountain working on his skiing.
Fisher-Gould of Ketchum is a wife, mother of two, sometime ski instructor
and coach, and one of the best all around athletes of a community where
physical activity, athleticism and competitive sports are central to the
lives of a significant number of its citizens.
Fosbury, Rudigoz, the Palmers, Kiesel, Ferries and Fisher-Gould
participated in the Olympics as competitors, and Rudigoz was a coach. They
are but a few of the more than three dozen Olympians who live or have
lived in the Wood River Valley, and who are an integral part of the fabric
and history of the community.
Six of them—Christin
Cooper-Tache, Susie Corrock-Luby, Dick Fosbury, Gretchen Fraser, Linda
Fratianne and Picabo Street¾ have won a total of seven Olympic Medals.
Four of them¾ Picabo Street, Tessa Benoit, Sondra Van Ert and Muffy
Davis¾ will participate in the 2002 Olympic Games in Utah.
In all, at
least 37 people from the Sun Valley area have participated in the
Olympics. Five are no longer living.
Olympians are part of the culture and heritage of Sun Valley. The late
Charlie Proctor, for whom Proctor Mountain is named, was on the 1928
Nordic combined team; his daughter, Peggy Dean, lives in Hulen Meadows and
skis Bald Mountain nearly every day. Other local Nordic Olympians include
Ned Gillette, Don Fraser, Lynn "Buck" Levy, Leif Odmark (coach),
Ntala Skinner, Laura Wilson Todd and Al Vincelette.
alpine Olympic skiers include Don Amick, John "Boots" Blatt,
Reggie Crist, John "Johnny Iceland" Gudmundsson (coach), and
Anderson ran the marathon for Switzerland in the 1984 Olympics; Ruthie
Matthes was an Olympic mountain biker; Tom Neely rode the single luge in
the 1964 Olympics, as did Bud Feldman.
these Olympians has contributed to the tradition of athletic excellence
that is a key element of the culture of the Wood River Valley, and they
are the core of its inspiration.