Christine McKelvie: Exception to statement

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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.

Christine McKelvie

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Martha D Young 6 years, 10 months ago

Christine has brought to our attention facts from skiing history that are, apparently, unknown by the normally well-informed John Russell. Did John mean that Kidd and Huega were the first Americans to win medals at the '64 Olympics, or the first U.S. alpine skiers ever to win Olympic medals?

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sparkle 6 years, 10 months ago

Good job, Christine! I think a lot of people will be surprised and pleased at your informative article. Thanks

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digit1964 6 years, 10 months ago

The reason he did not mention them was because he was wondering why the women were not back at the ranch in the kitchen. Duuhh...

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ventrygirl 6 years, 10 months ago

Christine-you go girl! Thanks for shedding some light on this topic.

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upstream 6 years, 10 months ago

nicely written Christine. Many of us wonder why you don't write for the paper full-time- you have a wonderful and informative style. Thank you.

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grannyrett 6 years, 10 months ago

I understood it that they were the first Americans to win medals in that-1964-Olympics. Why look for slights when there are none? Barrow was just recalling where he was when he heard the news.

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Christine 6 years, 10 months ago

I am willing to acknowledge that there are a couple of ways to interpret the key phrase that precipitated my letter to the editor. Perhaps the men's ski races were held prior to the women's races in the 1964 Olympics, or perhaps Moose received news only of the men's victories.

Also, I did not mean to slam John Russell, who is a fine writer and photographer as well as a friend. I hope this comments section will not be used to take swipes at a hardworking, talented journalist who has covered sports -- especially the Olympics -- very well over many years.

However, there is a commonly held misperception that America's first skiing medalists were Billy and Jimmie. That error has been expressed verbally and in print too many times, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try to set the record straight.

Upstream -- thanks for the compliments. I was a full-time reporter at the good old Steamboat Pilot. "Other duties as assigned" included copyediting, photography, column writing, paste-up/layout, darkroom work, and struggling with the headline machine at 2 a.m. after writing the account of the city council meeting to fill the large empty space on the front page.

Christine McKelvie

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portagetheyampa 6 years, 10 months ago

Christine,

You have always been a great journalist and I, too, would like to see more of your words in print. Now that your kids are grown, how about it?

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