Birger Ruud

Ski Jumping Hero

In 1932, Birger Ruud came from behind to edge Hans Beck for the gold medal in ski jumping. Both Ruud and Beck grew up in the Norwegian mining town of Kongsberg. At the 1936 Winter Olympics, Ruud attempted an unusual double, competing in both Alpine and ski jumping events. The inaugural Alpine contest was the combined ski jumping and slalom.

Ruud led the downhill race by 4.4 seconds, but when he missed a gate in the slalom, he was assigned a six-second penalty and ended up in fourth place. A week later, Ruud won the gold medal in the ski jump. In 1948, Ruud gained a silver medal in the same event. One can only imagine what he might have accomplished if the 1940 and 1944 Olympics had not been cancelled. Despite his great athletic feats, Ruud is most revered for his courageous anti-Nazi stand during the German occupation of Norway.