Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Although I enjoyed John Russell's article about Moose Barrows in Sunday's Pilot, the feminist and historian in me takes exception to the following misstatement:
"He still recalls that he was at the top of Howelsen Hill's large hill when he learned that Jimmy Heuga and Billy Kidd had won American's (sic) first medals at the 1964 Olympic Games."
On the contrary, four Americans had already won seven Olympic medals in Alpine skiing. These Americans happened to be women.
Why is it that Gretchen Fraser, Andrea Mead Lawrence, Penny Pitou and Betsy Snite are so overlooked when Olympic history is discussed, especially in Steamboat Springs?
Fraser won gold in the slalom and silver in the combined in 1948. Lawrence won two golds - one in slalom and the other in giant slalom - in 1952. Then it was Pitou's turn in 1960, as she won silver in both the downhill and giant slalom. Snite completed the silver sweep for the U.S. women that year, medalling in slalom.
These skiers were not exactly obscure. I remember reading about Gretchen Fraser and Andrea Mead Lawrence as a child. I still can recall how exciting it was to meet Penny Pitou at the showing of Warren Miller's annual ski movie in Appleton, Wis. Those were the days when Miller made a personal appearance to show his movie, which was attended by the wooden-ski crowd.
How about a little recognition for these incredible women? Billy Kidd and Jimmy Heuga were not America's first Alpine medalists. They were the first American men to medal at the Olympics - 16 years after an American woman showed them the way.