STORY No. 37
President/CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame
In this day and age when almost everyone regards skiing to be basically alpine skiing and snowboarding it is easy to forget that the first American skier to win an Olympic medal was a ski jumper! And this is a story with a special twist.
His name was Anders Haugen and he had immigrated from his native Norway in 1909 to join the rest of his family in the United States. Arriving in Milwaukee, WI he promptly joined the Milwaukee Ski Club and was so good the club, inspired by his great ability built a jumping slide at Lake Nagawicka the following year. Haugen went on from there to a distinguished career in the United States and was named on the first U.S.Winter Olympics Team in 1924. He was also the team captain.
At the Olympics he recorded the longest jump in the Special Jumping Event but the judges made a miscalculation in the points so he was awarded fourth place.
Fifty years later , Jackob Vaage, the famous Norwegian skiing historian discovered the error. The Norwegian government, in the true Olympic spirit, brought Haugen to Norway where he was presented with the bronze medal by the daughter of Thorlief Haug, the original medal winner. Eventually the International Olympic Committee, accepted this change (it didn’t at first) so that now, Anders Haugen of the United States is recognized as the bronze medal winner in ski jumping at the 1924 Olympic Winter Games, that were held in Chamonix, France. He was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1963.
|Portrait of young Anders.|
Editor’s note- I recall a piece that ABC produced on Anders for 1984 Olympic coverage. They asked Anders if he was thrilled to finally get his well-deserved bronze medal. He was quite old by then (95 in Feb ’84 and died that April) and his response was direct and priceless- Bah, the bronze! He felt he deserved the gold but was screwed by judges who resented his emigrating from Norway.
|Anders in later years.|