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James R. Hendrickson

Hall of Fame Class of 1971

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James “Jimmy” Hendrickson was born in 1913 In Eau Claire, Wisconsin and was an all-around athlete. He began skiing when he was six and at age 23 was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team.

James R. Hendrickson, born of Norwegian parents, was an all-around athlete from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He began skiing at age six, entered his first competition at age seven and was jumping exhibitions around the country when he was nine, holding the distinction of being the nation’s youngest ski jumper. In those days he was jumping upwards of 100 feet. Traveling with a winter expedition, Jim went to every part of the country that had snow.

As a sixteen-year-old, young Jimmy entered the 1929 National Ski Association meet at St. Paul, Minnesota and out-jumped all other competitors. He was Class “B” National Champion in 1934 and won the Central and Far West Ski Association titles in 1935 and 1936. He performed well as a member of the American Olympic Jumping Team at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany in 1936, placing sixth in the special jumping.

Jim Hendrickson joined the United States Army in 1942 and served as a lieutenant assigned to the Norwegian Ski Battalion at Camp Hale, Colorado. Hendrickson landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day and during the Battle of the Bulge, he and his Norwegian friends found themselves without skis and surrounded by Germans. In a combination of luck and bravado, he and his companions stole the German’s skis and escaped capture.

After surviving heavy combat duty In Europe for two years, he was killed participating in his favorite sport – ski jumping. This fatal accident occurred on his second jump on Norge Hill near Chicago when he fell on the flats after a near-perfect ride, was hit in the head by his ski and knocked unconscious. Never regaining consciousness and died several hours later at the Norwegian-American Hospital in Chicago.

James R. Hendrickson was elected posthumously to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1971.

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