Government Camp, OR
19188.8.131.52 Olympic teams Nordic combined
I started skiing when I was 5 years old. My Dad was superintendent of one of the local ski areas so he would take me to work with him and I would ski until the lifts closed at 4:30. At the time the ski areas were only open on the weekends. When I was 8 years old, one of the owners of the ski area bought his son and me a pair of jumping skis. My ski club had a bunch of Norwegians and other older senior jumpers. They would come up on the weekends from Portland and we would pack out the K35 hill and ski on the weekend. Once a year we would have our annual tournament and use the big hill (K75) but I wasn’t ready to use it until after high school.
When I was 14, one of the club members asked me if I wanted to go to Jr Nationals. I said, ” Uhhhh, sure.” Well if you go you’ll have to ski cross country. “Uhhhh OK”. There was one person in my town with cross country skis, so I asked if I could borrow them. Then I had to find some boots and skis. The Jr Nationals were in Steamboat that year (1962). A few days before the nationals started, my parents helped me pack and took me to the airport to fly to Denver (my first airplane trip). It was a DC8 four propeller airliner. Arriving in Denver at about 10am I got a taxi that took me to the Denver bus terminal and I had to wait about 12 hrs. before the bus left for Steamboat. Arriving in the ‘boat at 2am, I found the Harbour Hotel and checked in. I had never skied outside Oregon or Washington. I found my PNSA teammates so I had someone to guide me around.
I had a couple days of practice on XC skis and some jump practice. Then race day (my first ever XC race). Fortunately I didn’t finish last as Alaska had brought two girls as there was no girls class, so they raced with the boys. If not for them I would have been dead last. Then on to the jump comp. I don’t remember what place I finished but that was the start of my Nordic Combined career. Probably last place.
All through my junior racing, my training consisted of warming up for the XC race on Saturday and racing, then getting as many practice jumps and then the jump comp on Sunday. No one skied XC where I grew up on Mt Hood and during the week I rode the bus to high school (45 minutes each way), so I left in the dark and got home in the dark. I probably had about 50 or 60km of XC skiing a year and 50 or 60 jumps a year in a good year.
I’m sure no one except my teammates knew who I was and no one, even me, would believe that 6 years later I would be marching in the opening ceremonies at the 1968 Olympic Games in Grenoble France.
EDITOR’S NOTE- Mike was elected to the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 1999. to see his bio, CLICK HERE
|Mike skied in the 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980 Olympics.|