Friday, January 27, 2012

Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame honors 10 more

Induction ceremony Wednesday at Forest Service Park

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame will receive 10 new members next week.

They will be inducted during a ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Sun Valley Ski and Heritage Museum at Forest Service Park, 180 E. First St. in Ketchum. The 2012 induction ceremony will begin at 4 p.m., and feature live music, drinks and a brief presentation by each athlete. The inductees are:

Ntala Skinner

Sun Valley native Ntala Skinner was raised in the shadow of the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming and coached by her father, Ole, before returning to the Wood River Valley to take advantage of the excellent coaching of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.

She was a member of the Olympic Biathlon Team in 1994 and 1998, while serving her country in the Idaho National Guard. By age 25, she had three national championships and one World Cup bronze medal.

"From a very young age I always wanted to go to the Olympics," Skinner said in an interview.

She said her father would tease her for bad behavior by asking, "Do you think this is how you get to the Olympics?"

Returning home at 2 a.m. in 1994 after finally making the Olympic team, she answered, "Yes."

"Thank goodness for great parents that have always been interested in my success," Skinner said.

Annie and Bill Vanderbilt

Annie and Bill Vanderbilt were instrumental is establishing Nordic skiing in the valley. They moved to Ketchum in 1982, brought the first Piston Bully grooming machine to the valley and ran the Big Wood Ski Touring Center for five years.

Annie was known for serving her homemade soups and "sinfully delicious brownies" in the ski shop.

"The 1980s were a wild time to be involved in cross-country skiing in the Wood River Valley," Annie said.

For their support of the sport, the Vanderbilts were honored by the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce as Citizens of the Year in 1987.

Dick Durrance

Dick Durrance was a member of the legendary Dartmouth ski teams of the 1930s, a winner of 17 national championship races and the only skier to win Sun Valley's Harriman Cup three times.

He learned to ski while living in Garmisch, Germany, from 1927 to 1933, where he won the German Junior National Championships. He returned to Garmisch for the 1936 Olympics where he finished eighth in slalom and 10th in alpine combined. The following week he won a downhill in Sestriere, Italy, against many of the Olympic competitors.

In the summer of 1939, while working in the Sun Valley publicity department, he designed and supervised the cutting of the Warm Springs trail on which the 1939 Harriman Cup was contested.

Durrance Peak north of Ketchum bears his name.

Jenny Busdon

Jenny Busdon sailed from her native England on the Empress of Britain to Canada in 1963. Before moving with her family to Sun Valley she was named Whistler Citizen of the Year and in 1981 was awarded the Humanitarian Award for outstanding community service.

For 11 years she taught at the Sun Valley Nordic Ski School, and won a gold medal for the U.S. Relay team at the World Cup Masters cross-country races in 1995.

When Galena Lodge closed its doors in 1992 threatening the loss of its groomed trails, Busdon's successful Help Save Galena campaign raised $350,000 to keep the lodge open.

As well, Busdon co-chaired the Power Galena campaign, raising $500,000 to bring electricity to the lodge, organized the Gourmet Ski Tour for 14 years and chaired the annual Galena Benefit for 16 years. In 2003 she was awarded the Spirit of Idaho Award from Sen. Mike Crapo for community service.

Charley French

Charley French came to Sun Valley in 1970 as an experienced aerospace engineer, working for Scott USA, where he developed many products, including the Scott ski boot and a bicycle front shock.

French began competing in swimming and speed skating when he was in grammar school, raced motorcycles and bump-skied over 100 days a winter, testing products for Scott USA.

During summer he bike raced, later competing in triathlons, winning his age group at Ironman Hawaii and the World Championships five times.

French turned to cross-country skiing before skate-skiing existed. He has won in his age group at the American Birkebeiner, been to the National Championships three times and raced two World Cup races and many Boulder Mountain Tours. At 85, he's still competing.

Warren Miller

Warren Miller is Hollywood-born American ski and action sports filmmaker, with more than 500 films, several books and hundreds of published nonfiction stories to his name.

Miller and a friend moved to Sun Valley in the 1940s, camping in a teardrop trailer at a Sun Valley resort parking lot. They earned a living as ski instructors.

His annual ski movies, both witty and inspiring, have received wide acclaim for decades for the promotion of modern skiing.

Through Warren Miller Co. and the Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, he remains an active writer, artist, philanthropist and luminary to the action sports industry.

Pete Patterson

Pete Patterson was born in 1957 in Sun Valley, living at the bottom of Warm Springs long before the lifts were installed. He made the U.S. Ski Team at age 17, and spent the next eight years representing the country in international competition.

A two-time Olympian, Patterson placed 13th in the 1976 Innsbruck downhill at age 19 and a historic fifth in the 1980 Olympic downhill in Lake Placid, at that time the best-ever U.S. men's finish in that event.

Two years earlier, he earned the only U.S. medal in the 1978 World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, taking bronze in the combined.

Injuries forced him to retire early from racing and he began guiding helicopter skiing in Sun Valley. He continues to guide pristine ski adventures in the mountains of Chile and Greenland. He and his wife, Kim Jacobs, run an international adventure travel company, aptly named Mountain Spirits.

Jannette Burr Johnson

Born in Seattle in 1929, Jannette Burr Johnson was a highly competitive and fearless ski racer following World War II.

Johnson was a member of the U. S. Olympic Team in 1952. At the 1954 FIS championships, she was America's only medal winner with a bronze medal in giant slalom. Throughout the 1950s, she was a regular competitor on the national and international ski circuits. She won races throughout the country, with highlights being winning the North American downhill title in Banff, Alberta, in 1950 and the U.S. national downhill title that same year.

Johnson won the Diamond Harriman pin five times in Sun Valley and was a ski instructor for the Sun Valley Ski School for 37 years. During that time she was actress Lucille Ball's double in the film "Lucy Goes to Sun Valley."

Michel Rudigoz

Formerly of Lyon, France, Michel Rudigoz began his ski-coaching career in Val d'Isere, France. He coached the British Alpine Ski Team for the 1972 Olympics before moving to Sun Valley and coaching for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.

Rudigoz later coached the 1978 U.S. Men's Alpine Team with star athletes Andy Mill, Phil Mahre and Pete Patterson. He was U.S. Women's Ski Team head coach in 1982.

"Michel had a sixth sense for how to keep coaches and athletes sharp, smiling and willing to go to the ends of the earth for ski racing," said one of his athletes, Olympic silver medalist Christin Cooper. "His greatest contributions were always less about precise technique and more about tactics, mental approach, motivation and organization. He had such a natural ability to keep morale high and energies directed."

Hans Muehlegger

Hans Muehlegger was born in 1940 in Auggach, Austria, a small village in the Tyrolean Alps near Kitzbuhel. He grew up climbing the local mountains to ski them, taking his Austrian Certified Ski Instruction exam in 1963.

He was hired by Sun Valley in 1966, and served as a ski school supervisor from 1977 until 1987. He raced in Alpine events in Austria, and won the Sanderson Pro Am trophy in Sun Valley in 1968 and 1970.

Muehlegger became an avid cross-country skier in the late 1960s, winning 10 national Masters Cross Country Championships, a silver medal in the World Masters Cross-Country relay race.

He has also won a World Masters Mountain Bike championship and four National Masters Mountain Bike championships.

Muehlegger was director of the Sun Valley Nordic operations from 1987 until 1999, when he became director of the Ski and Snowsports School in 1999, a post from which he retired in 2010.

"I would like to congratulate all the inductees and am very honored to be included in this esteemed group," Muehleagger said. "I'm looking forward to receiving this great award."

Tony Evans:

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