Rhoda Wurtele Eaves
Hall of Fame Class of 1969
Rhoda Wurtele, like her twin sister, Rhona, was an intense alpine competitor who was absolutely fearless on the courses. The Wurtele sisters emerged on the international ski scene in 1943 at Lake Placid, New York where Canadian and American women’s teams met in downhill and slalom racing to bind the teams in the goodwill that exists today.
Rhoda Wurtele, Canadian-born skier from Quebec, was one of the famed Wurtele twins who dominated alpine skiing in the Eastern United States and Canada during the 1940’s.
She came on the international ski scene during the first Canadian-American downhill Slalom staged at Lake Placid, New York in 1943. Rhoda placed second in the downhill, edged out by Paula Kann of the American Team. She placed fourth in the slalom and finished the competition third overall in the combined. This was an excellent beginning for the Canadian youngster.
Rhoda skied as a member of the Penguin Ski Club of Montreal and for the Canadian Amateur Ski Association as well as the National Ski Association of America. Both Rhoda and her sister, Rhona, won many competitions on both side of the United States-Canadian border, helping to forge a link in the goodwill chain binding the women skiers of both countries in unity and friendship.
Not only did these two sisters look alike, they skied alike. Rhoda was extremely aggressive on the slope and seemed slightly more adept at the high speed, treacherous downhill runs, emerging more of a downhill specialist. Rhoda could defeat Rhona (and visa-versa) or anyone else in any event on any given day. The differences in their abilities were all but immeasurable.
Both twins were voted Canada’s “Outstanding Woman Athlete”, winning the Federation Rose Bowl in 1945 and were runners up to Joe Krol (football) for Canadian top athlete for 1947.
In 1948 they were on the Canadian Olympic Team at St. Moritz. Both were injured but when Rhoda’s cast was removed, she came in 3rd at Chamonix, France in the Arlberg Kandahar Downhill. Rhona had to fly home with her injury but got another chance at the 1952 Olympic Games.
Rhoda Wurtele won the National Ski Association Downhill titles in 1947 and 1948 as well as most of the Canadian Amateur Ski Association Downhill titles from 1943 through 1950, along with several other titles on both sides of the border during this period. She entered the United States Eastern Amateur Ski Association Championships in 1948 and placed third in the downhill. It seems Rhoda had a spectacular run, won the slalom and placed second to Rhona in the combined.
These Canadian-born skiers did much to cement relationships among athletes of the U.S. and Canada. Their good-natured and cooperative attitudes along with their fierce competitive spirits helped the athletes of both nations develop into strong skiers, part of which is still visible in both ski teams today.
Rhoda’s son, John Eaves, was a three time winner of the World Freestyle Championship.
Rhoda Wurtele Eaves was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1969.
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