Like any other human endeavor skiing has a history and that history is full of people who did things to change the way things were done, who did things to inspire others to take up the activity, or just did amazing things while skiing. This series Great Skiers explores the people who had their front edges in the snow steering ski history.
I start the series off featuring Birger Ruud a Norwegian born on August 23, 1911 who participated mainly in ski jumping but also demonstrated great ability in Alpine skiing! I do not how common it was for skiers to participate in both disciplines (Nordic versus Alpine), but Birger Ruud was one of those folks. Today it is unheard of a snow athlete to participate in Nordic and Alpine events at the highest levels of ski competition, but Birger Ruud did it.
Not only did Birger Ruud dominate ski jumping, win at Alpine skiing, he also may have said: “I hate Norwegian Nazis” (yes, that is a reference to the Blues Brothers). It is easy to dislike Nazis now, but for Birger Ruud it was different, he lived from 1911 through 1998 and Norway was occupied by real live Nazis who would imprison and possibly torture and kill you for hating them. Yes, Birger Ruud did spend time in prison for his refusal to compete for occupied Norway and his distaste for National Socialism.
Birger Ruud — Ski Jumping
Birger Ruud’s record includes the following:
- The Olympic Games
- World Champinoships
Two gold medals and a silver at age 37. He won gold at Lake Placid in 1932 and in 1936 at Garmisch. The silver medal he won in 1948 at St. Moritz.
Three gold medals and a silver medal. The golds were won in 1931, 1935, 1937 and he won his silver medal in 1939.
Of course, he won many other events but these are the big ones.
Birger Ruud — Alpine Skiing
At the 1935 world championships Birger won the Bronze medal in the Alpine Combined event which was a downhill race and two slalom races.
Birger Ruud — Life Outside of Skiing
Birger did not rest when he was not skiing. In addition to skiing he and Petter Hugsted founded the Kongsberg Skiing Museum in Kongsberg Norway.
Birger was slated to light the Olympic torch in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic games, but was too ill to do so. He passed away on June 13, 1998. Here is to you Birger Ruud!