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Ole Hegge

Hall of Fame Class of 1970

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Ole Hegge was considered the ‘grand old man of skiing’ in the early and mid-1930’s. Hegge immigrated to the United States in 1929 with a brilliant record of ski jumps and cross-country trails across Europe, particularly in his native Norway and neighboring Sweden and Finland.

Born in 1899 in the Norwegian town of Bardu Troms near the Arctic Circle, Ole Hegge practically grew up on skis from age six on. He began competing as a youngster. By the time he left Norway for the United States in 1929 he had captured five Norwegian national titles in cross-country and combined, three runner-up posts in the famous Holmenkollen race, two King’s cups from King Haakon VII for Norwegian supremacy in the combined, a gold cup from Sweden’s Crown Prince and a first in the combined Nordiska Spelan – an event comparable in Sweden to the Olympics.

At the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Hegge won silver in the seventeen-mile cross-country and, despite breaking his skis fifteen kilometers from the finish line, managed to place fifth in the 50-km race.

In 1929 Ole moved to the state of Washington where he won second in a jump meet. He came east to Salisbury, Connecticut the following year where he established an important ski center, working with men like the Satre brothers to build a jumping hill and cross-country trail. These men were the enthusiastic forerunners of the Salisbury Winter Sports Association. According to legend one of the first jumps in Salisbury was off a barn roof. Hegge and his cohorts were responsible for an enlarged 60-meter hill, two smaller hills for younger jumpers, a cross-country trail and a rope-tow hill for beginners.

Considered “the grand old man” of nordic skiing in the early 1930s, Hegge competed not only in Salisbury but all over the world. Not yet a citizen and contending under the Norwegian flag at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, the small, compact athlete came in fourth in the 50-km cross-country. During a national meet held in Salisbury, he was runner-up in cross-country and combined. He won Eastern titles at Lake Placid, New York; Norfolk, Connecticut and Rumford, Maine. He also came in first in the 18-km and 50-km races and combined at Lake Placid and Bear Mountain, New York; Berlin and Loncia, New Hampshire and Salisbury Mills and Rosendale, Connecticut.

After an active career of 17 years, Ole retired in 1936 but remained active as an international judge. He also taught at Vassar College and the Millbrook School for Boys. He was director of the Salisbury Winter Sports Association while continuing to officiate at all jumping events and work with and inspire the younger generation of skiers, including his own grandchildren, in both jumping and cross-country.

All told, Ole Hegge won over 50 tournaments in his career and was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1970.

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