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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8065 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of February 13 - 19, 2002


Honor valley Olympians

If asked to identify the Wood River Valley’s first Olympian, most people would be stumped. And, they would have no easy way to find the answer.

Jimmy Griffith was the first Olympic athlete to grow up skiing Baldy. He was the first Olympian born and raised here. Yet, no photo, no plaque, no honor of any kind at Sun Valley Resort attests to his achievement.

Griffith is one of several valley Olympians who should not be allowed to slip into obscurity in the place they called home.

He became America’s top downhill racer, earned a spot on the U.S. Ski Team and was slated to compete in the 1952 Winter Olympics.

He knew about speed. On March 25, 1950, he flew down the national downhill on Bald Mountain in 2 minutes and 15 seconds.

The feat was breath-taking. He posted the time without today’s high-tech equipment, without high-tech training. More surprising, he’d never had a formal lesson.

He bested the best racers in the country, including Tony Matt, Ernie McCullough and Jack Reddish. Yet, he never got to run the Olympic Downhill in Oslo, Norway.

While training at Alta, Utah, he struck a tree and shattered a leg. Three days later, he died.

Although Griffith is buried in the Ketchum Cemetery, memories of his achievements are confined to his family and the friends who are still alive.

His story is fast being forgotten. So, too, will the stories of other great Sun Valley Olympians fade into time—unless the community keeps them alive.

Their names and their stories should not be allowed to disappear. The valley should honor its sports greats in a lasting and public display.

Bronze plaques bearing their likenesses and listing their achievements should become part of a place of honor either inside a mountain lodge or in a separate outdoor display.

The effort to fund and build a display should be led by Sun Valley Resort, the city of Sun Valley, the city of Ketchum and the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage Ski Museum.

The legends displayed will inspire and encourage future generations to participate and to excel in mountain sports. There’s no better place to honor and preserve the stories of the valley’s Olympians than on the mountain they loved.


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.