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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 5 - 12, 2002


Sun Valley’s Olympic connections endure

Express Staff Writer

There are 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.

Still 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:

The ageless 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.

Fosbury is 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 his snowboard.

Michel 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.

Terry 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 Bald Mountain.

Tyler 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.

Ferries is 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.

Abbi 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.

Bell, 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.

All the 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.

Other local alpine Olympic skiers include Don Amick, John "Boots" Blatt, Reggie Crist, John "Johnny Iceland" Gudmundsson (coach), and Susie Patterson.

Gabrielle 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.

Each of 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.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.