We’re already into the third week of March and Women’s History Month! After commemorating the vast history of the Wood River Valley, starting with the Indigenous Peoples and then focusing on the early settlers with ties to the mining and ranching industries, it’s time to focus on those women who made fame with their ski racing careers.
Ski racing has been central to the Sun Valley/Ketchum community since the inception of the resort in 1936, and we’re proud to boast numerous Olympic medalist women with ties to the area.
These women represent the trailblazing spirit of Sun Valley and Ketchum and have impacted the history for women in sports for years to come.
Gretchen Fraser, born in 1919 and laid to rest in the Ketchum cemetery in 1994, was the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in skiing. She grew up in Washington, but came to call Sun Valley home in 1938 when she met her soon to be husband, Donald Fraser.
Although both Gretchen and Donald were members of the 1940 Olympics team, the games were canceled due to WWII. Gretchen took that time to help rehabilitate wounded veterans through skiing, something she would continue to do throughout her life.
After the war, she was able to compete in the 1948 Olympic games where she took home both a gold and silver medal. Her legacy lives on in Sun Valley to this day, with a ski run named after her on Bald mountain, as well as Gretchen’s restaurant in the Sun Valley Lodge.
Christin Cooper, born in 1959 in California, was raised in Ketchum where she learned to ski and race. In fact, her step father was Bill Janss, owner of the resort until 1977.
Cooper started her long career of ski racing at the age of 17 and raced on the World Cup circuit from 1977-1984. At age 20, she competed in the 1980 Olympic games, taking eighth place in the slalom and seventh in the giant slalom.
In the 1984 Olympic games, Cooper took home a silver medal in the giant slalom, and shortly after, a ski run “Christin’s Silver,” was named after her on Bald Mountain.
Olympic gold medalist, Picabo Street, also has strong ties to Sun Valley. Street was born in Triumph, Idaho where she learned to ski and race and was a part of the Hailey Ski Team. She later went to school in Salt Lake City for one year for ski racing before returning to Idaho and racing for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.
Stree joined the U.S. Ski Team at the age of 17 in 1989. She won her first silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics, and a ski run at Sun Valley was named after her shortly after, “Picabo’s Street.”
Muffy Davis was born in Sun Valley in 1972 and has led a life filled with challenges and triumphs ever since. Davis was set to be on the U.S. Ski Team but suffered from an accident at the age of 16 that left her paralyzed from the chest down.
Davis didn’t let her tragic accident stop her from doing what she loved, and she went on to compete in the 1998 Winter Paralympic games where she took home a bronze medal in slalom. After three silver medals at the 2002 Paralympic games, Davis retired from skiing.
Davis also went on to compete in the 2012 Summer Paralympics, winning gold medals for handcycling after only picking up the sport two years earlier in 2010. She later became a politician, serving on the Idaho House of Representatives from 2018 to 2021.
Former professional snowboarder, Kaitlyn Farrington, was born in 1989 and grew up on a cattle ranch in Bellevue. She made her debut at the European Winter X Games in 2010 where she won a gold medal.
In 2014, Farrington competed at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, taking home the gold medal in the women’s half-pipe competition. A black diamond run on Bald Mountain was renamed “Kaitlyn’s Bowl” in her honor.