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Sverre Fredheim

Hall of Fame Class of 1973

Bio Content

Information submitted in a nomination letter to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame by Luke J. Soler

Sverre Fredheim began jumping in the United States in 1930. He moved from Class “C” to the top of Class “A” in one year.

Sverre Fredheim was born in Gran, Hadeland, Norway and came to the United Sates in 1927. Settling first in North Dakota, he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1930. Sverre’s first job was at the Mounds Park Hospital in 1930. He heard of a ski meet being held at Mounds Park in St. Paul, a few blocks from the hospital. Calling the City Parks and Playgrounds Department, Sverre asked if it was all right to ski and when informed that it was, he joined the St. Paul Ski Club and entered the city championship. Winning the city title that year, Sverre started a jumping career which may never be equaled. His first “out of town” meet was at the old Glenwood slide in Minneapolis and he competed in Class ”B”. Sverre won the Class “B” title having the longest standing jump and set a new hill record of 147 feet.

A year later, in 1931, he competed in the Central U.S. Ski Jumping Championships at Canton, South Dakota and won the Class ”B” title and was elevated to Class “A”. There was a special long standing event after the meet and Sverre won that with a leap of 192 feet, not only surpassing the hill record but out jumping all Class “A”. He was not eligible for the Olympic Team as he was not yet a United States citizen.

In 1934 he won the Class “A” Central title at Devil’s Lake, North Dakota and was second in the National Championships at Fox River Grove, Illinois. Upon winning the Central title, he defeated the national champion. In 1935, Sverre became a United States citizen. At Canton, South Dakota, he again placed second in the National Championships but the Central Championships were not held due to bad weather. Later that year he again defeated the national title holder when he won the Olympic tryouts at Ecker Hill in Salt Lake City, Utah, assuring himself a berth on the U.S. Olympic Team. Also in 1935, Harold Grinden (historian for the CUSSA) listed Fredheim as the number two jumper on a listing of the All American Ski Jumpers.

In 1936, Sverre represented the United States in the Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. He placed highest of all American skiers and was eleventh in the finals. In practice he made his longest leap of 283 feet at Garmisch but fell. The hill record was 281 feet. Fredheim’s name is listed in Who’s Who. Upon his return from the Olympics in 1937, he won first place in eight meets in the Central Championships. He started out the season by setting the hill record as well as the Central hill record of 212 feet at Devil’s Lake, North Dakota.

In 1938, Centrals were again held at Soldier’s Field, Chicago and won by Birger Ruud, the Olympic titleholder. Although Sverre did not repeat as a winner, he did have the longest leap of 162 feet along with Rudd. Sverre placed third in the Nationals at Brattleboro, Vermont this same year. In 1939, Fredheim placed fourth in the Nationals which were held in St. Paul, Minnesota. He won the Class “A” title at New London, Wisconsin for the third time and received the Governor Heil trophy at that meet. Sverre was selected to represent the United States in the 1940 Olympics in Finland. Unfortunately, the Olympics were not held that year due to the war.

In 1940 Sverre tied the hill record of 197 feet in St. Paul which had been set the previous year by Reidar Andersen of Norway. In 1942, Fredheim (residing on the West Coast) won the PNSA Class “A” Championships. After the war (in 1947), he again tried out for the Olympic team in Seattle, Washington. In Saturday’s meet he placed fifth and on Sunday he came back to win first place with leaps of 260 and 262 feet, assuring himself a berth on the team. In the final tabulations he was third – at the age of 40!

In the 1948 Olympics at St.Moritz, Switzerland, he was second highest of the American skiers. He competed in several meets in Europe and was second at Davos and third at LaRosa, both in Switzerland. Although eligible for the Veterans’ Class long before, he continued to compete in Class “A” and in 1951 (age 44), he placed ninth in the Olympic tryouts at Iron Mountain, Michigan. In 1955 after competing and winning in Class “A” since 1931, he moved into the Veterans’ class.

Sverre Fredheim was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1973.

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