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Jim Martinson

Hall of Fame Class of 2015

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“Can’t” is not in Jim Martinson’s vocabulary. Considered the “Founding Father” of adaptive skiing, this double amputee has lead the way to victory for the disabled as both an athlete and inventor.

Growing up with three brothers in Sumner, Washington, sports were a way of life. During winter weekends in the 1950’s, the Martinson’s skied the small rope-tow areas of the Cascades. That built strong boys with a love for playing in the snow.

Jim was a linebacker on his high school state championship team and even played football in college but he dropped out after one semester with plans to be a ski bum in Sun Valley. The draft and Vietnam, however, forced a detour.

June, 1968, near Da Nang, Jim’s life changed forever. A land mine exploded and he lost both legs above the knee. Learning to live without legs took time; not only to build back his strength, but his spirit too. An invitation to play wheelchair basketball got this once fearless competitor back in the game. He started racing wheelchairs in 1976, and in 1981 he won the Boston Marathon. That same year he founded Magic in Motion, an adaptive sport equipment company specializing in lightweight performance wheelchairs. He also created devices for waterskiing, tennis, golf and even rugby.

Jim traveled the world winning races but he still wasn’t skiing. Then, a friend took him to nearby Snoqualmie Pass in 1985. Back on snow, Jim got ideas. He used his knowledge for a better wheelchair to build a sit-ski, one with a shock and a system to give riders the freedom to get on and off the lift independently. The new design was a hit and like his “Shadow” wheelchair, it revolutionized competitive athletics for the disabled.

A three-time Paralympian, Jim medaled at both summer and winter games. As a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, he won gold at the 1992 Winter Paralympics in Albertville, France. He was inducted into the National Disabled Hall of Fame in Vail, Colorado, in 2003. At 63, he was the oldest competitor in the Winter X-Games.

Jim has also helped fellow Honored Members: Chris Waddell, Sarah Will and Muffy Davis to earn gold at the Paralympics as well.

Jim and his wife, Colleen, have four children and four grandchildren. They live in Puyallup, Washington where he continues to inspire the adaptive community by an example that they can do anything…..they just do it differently.

Career Highlights:

1968: Purple Heart for Vietnam service
1980: Gold & Silver in Paralympics at Arnhem, Netherlands
1981: First place in the Boston Marathon
1981: Founded Magic in Motion company
1984: Gold in the Paralympics at Long Island, New York
1985: Developed “Shadow” mono ski
1990-1992: U.S. Disabled Ski Team
1992: Gold in Paralympics at Albertville, France
2003: Inducted into the National Disabled Ski Hall of Fame
2009: X-Games mono-skier
2010: Paralympics Games Ambassador in Vancouver
2011: Starred in Kurt Miller film “The Movement”

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To make changes, the file below must be edited. Email Carl with any questions ([email protected]).


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