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Sigurd Overby

Hall of Fame Class of 1976

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Information submitted in a nomination letter to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame by Bill Berry, USSA Historian.

At the Olympic tryouts in Minneapolis in 1923, Sigurd Overby ran the cross-country course in an unusually fast time, topping the second place winner by a full three minutes.

While the entire 1924 United States Olympic Ski Team was entered in a mythical “Hall of Fame for America’s Ski Sport” many years ago, the name of Sigurd Overby was approved (in 1967) when the Historical Committee and USSA Directors adopted the “Roster of Ski Greats.’ Overby was a three-time cross-country champion as well as having been a standout member of America’s first Olympic Ski Team.

For Overby to be honored posthumously, a nominating petition and biographical material was necessary. These were provided through the joint efforts of the St. Paul Ski Club, the Milwaukee Ski Club, the Parks Ski Club, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Ski Council, the Norge Ski Club of Chicago and, last but not least, the hard work by Henry Pflieger of the Ski Hall of Fame and historical committee.

The nomination endorsers were fortunate in having access to what B.G. Leighton of the American Olympic Committee wrote regarding accomplishments of American skiers during the 1924 Olympic Winter Games at Chamonix, France. In an article entitled “Who’s Who on the First United States Olympic Ski Team” and published in the 1925 edition of The Ski Sort, official publication of the National Ski Association of America , Leighton lauded each individual member of the team and then declared they…

“…are entered in the Hall of Fame of America’s Ski Sport as the members of the first team to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. What they did at this premier athletic event has become history. They represented the ski spot of America with distinction and much credit to themselves and the ‘King Sports’ in the United States.”

All of Overby’s teammates have long since entered the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame as Honored Members. They are: Col. George Leach (team manager), Anders Haugen, Harry Lien, John Carleton and Ragnar Omtvedt.

It was perhaps the first mention of a hall of fame in American sports history. Baseball, Hockey, basketball, swimming, football and other sports halls of fame did not become a fact until beginning in the mid-thirties. Baseball was first, soon followed by what has been established in Ishpeming, Michigan. Others followed.

Leighton’s Who’s Who described Overby as a “small, wiry fellow who used specially constructed skis and brings into play very effectively the ski poles on his cross-country races.” During the Winter Olympics, the St. Paul Ski Club representatives scored 11th in nordic combined. This was rated an outstanding accomplishment.

Norway-born, Overby came to America in 1915. However, the facts of his national cross-country championships are well documented. He won medals in 1916 at Glenwood, Minnesota; 1923 at Minneapolis and 1926 at Duluth, Minnesota.

Sigurd Overby was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1976, the seventh and final member of the first United States Olympic Team to be so honored.

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