The United States has produced a plethora of outstanding female skiers and snowboarders who have brought international recognition and notoriety to the American snow sports scene. We saluted many of these women in Part One and there are more, all of whom have been inducted in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Many other accomplished female athletes can be found on the Hall of Fame web site. Also, see Part One of the “salute to women skiers and snowboarders”.
Gretchen Fraser was the first American to win ac Olympics gold medal. She also is a model of perseverance. She was a member of the U.S. Ski Team for the 1940 and 1944 Olympics, both of which were cancelled due to World War II. Finally, a week before her 29th birthday, Fraser won the gold medal in the slalom and a silver medal in the combined event in St. Moritz, Switzerland. during the 1948 Games. Gretchen and husband Don Fraser had both been named to the 1940 U.S. Olympic Teams which did not take place. They were supporters of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, the Wood River Trail System and the Nature Conservancy of Idaho. Her Olympic medals are on display in the restaurant named for her in the Sun Valley Lodge: Gretchen’s. Don died on January 12, 1994 and Gretchen died a month later on February 17, 1994.
Barbara Ann Cochran, born in 1951 in Claremont, New Hampshire, is one of four Cochran children. Barbara, older sister Marilyn and younger brother Bob were team members at the 1972 Olympic Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan. The women’s skiing events of the 1972 Sapporo (Japan) Olympic Winter Games saved the day for American skiing. Barbara Cochran won the slalom gold medal and Susan Luby Corrock won bronze in the opening downhill event only one second behind silver medalist, Annemarie Proell of Austria. For Susan it was the best run of her career and she said, “I didn’t make any mistakes.”. Corrock may be one of the least known U.S. Olympians
Cindy Nelson grew up in Lutsen, MN where her parents ran the ski area there. She was first named to the U.S. Ski Team in 1971, and evolved into one of the best international racers ever for the U.S. She won a bronze medal for the at the 12th Winter Olympics at Innsbruck, Austria in 1976, and was rated the top downhill racer on the team. Nelson was the first American to be named to four Olympic teams: 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984. Missing the 1972 games due to injury, she went on to compete in the next three Olympic Games and four Alpine World championships. In 1974, Nelson broke Annemarie Moser-Proell’s winning streak to become the first U.S. racer (man or woman) to win a World Cup in downhill. She went on to become the first American to win four major alpine medals: 1976 Olympic Bronze DH, 1976 F.I.S. Bronze Comb, 1980 F.I.S. Silver Comb and 1982 F.I.S. Silver DH)!
Christin Cooper was named to the U.S. Ski Team at the age of 16 and competed in two Olympics and five Alpine World Cup disciplines for eight seasons. Cooper brought her career full circle when she skied to the silver medal in the Olympic giant slalom in 1984 at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia – behind teammate Debbie Armstrong to mark the first ever one-two U.S. Olympic sweep. She led after the first run but slipped in the second near the top of the course and that allowed Armstrong to slip past her for the gold medal. Cooper was the first American skier to win three medals in a single World Championships, earning a bronze and two silver medals at the 1982 World Championships held in Schladming, Austria. She went on to be a commentator for NBC Sports.
Picabo Street was born in Triumph, ID, the same year that Cindy Nelson was named to the U.S. Ski Team. The name of her home town may have been a precursor to her success. She is a two-time Olympic medalist, winning silver in downhill in 1994 at Lillehammer, Norway and gold in 1998 in Super-G at the Nagano, Japan Games. A popular team member, she changed her name to match the name of an Indian tribe in southern Idaho whose word “Picabo” meant “Shining waters.” She was the first American to win the World Cup overall downhill title. In 1996, she became Women’s F.I.SA. World Downhill Champion for the first time, taking a super-G bronze as well. She also took her second World Cup overall downhill title with three wins in 1996. Donning the same skis she used to win the Olympic downhill silver in 1994, she proceeded to win the 1998 Olympic super-G by the closest margin in Olympic history, just one-hundredth of a second. She recently collaborated with on a documentary about herself to air in 2022. Lindsey Vonn is the director.
Diana Golden was an inspiration to anyone who watched her ski or heard her speak. She began skiing when she was four years old and lost her right leg due to cancer in 1975 when she was 11 years old. Four years later, she was competing on her high school ski team and in her first U.S. Disabled Ski Championships. She was the Olympic Gold Medalist at the Calgary Olympics in 1988, World Champion 10 times and National title holder on 19 occasions. Golden received many prestigious awards, including the Flo Hyman Award in 1991, awarded by the Women’s Sports Foundation, the United States Ski Association’s Buddy Werner Award in 1989, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Female Skier of the Year Award in1988 and the Beck International Award in 1986. She died in 2001 after a courageous battle with cancer.
Nicole “Nikki” Stone was the first American to win an Olympic Gold Medal in the sport of Aerial Freestyle skiing at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. She was the first Freestyle competitor from any country to have won every major title in Freestyle aerials including: Rookie of the Year, National Aerial Champion, World Cup Aerial Champion, Overall Aerial World Cup Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist in Aerial Freestyle skiing, World Champion and Overall Freestyle Grand Prix World Cup Champion. After joining the United States Freestyle Ski Team in 1991, Nikki won 4 United States Championships, 11 World Cup competitions, a World Championship gold, 2 Grand Prix World Cup Aerial titles, the Overall Freestyle World Cup Grand Prix Title, and in 1998, an Olympic Gold Medal. She retired in 1999 and now is a popular motivational speaker.
Tamara McKinney was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the youngest member of a family of seven children: all skiers, four of whom made the national ski team and all educated at home by their mother. Although she did not medal in an Olympics, in 1983, Tamara made history when she received the first-ever World Cup Women’s Overall Title – the same year that Phil Mahre won the men’s title. Tamara was also named Ski Racing’s 1983 Skier of the Year. She was not taught to ski; she learned by doing. Her coach, Hermann Goellner, while watching McKinney make a practice run, shook his head and commented out loud, “She sure does love the snow! Her skis just play with it!”