Colorado Nordic skiing legend Sven Wiik turns 94
Steamboat Springs — Nordic skiers who showed up at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center Feb. 28 enjoyed the best skiing conditions of the winter. But there was an even greater treat in store for skinny skiers, the chance to eat a piece of cake with Colorado Ski Hall of Fame member Sven Wiik on the occasion of his 94th birthday party.
Sven was even giving out free wisdom on his special day.
“You can only do good work if you like what you’re doing,” he proclaimed.
Sven told a good story on himself, too. He had to undergo a surgery last fall and the doctor told him that going forward he should limit his fitness regimen to walking only. However, there came a day this winter when the Touring Center was very busy with people learning to ski. Naturally, Sven was called upon to step into his bindings again and provide some instruction for new skiers on how to kick and glide.
Wouldn’t you know it? That was the day his surgeon showed up to ski. Sven was busted.
“He told me, ‘Just don’t fall,’” Sven said with a sly grin.
Think about it. Once you’ve reached the age of 94, what are you saving it up for?
Asking Sven Wiik not to ski is like asking Tony Bennett to stop singing. It’s like asking Peyton Manning to stop shouting, “Omaha! Omaha!” Or asking B.B. King to stop feeling blue, or Meryl Streep to stop dominating Oscar nominations. Not gonna happen.
Wiik, who was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame way back in 1979, was born to glide on a pair of skinny skis on Feb. 27, 1921, in Solloftea, Sweden.
Sven recalled on Saturday that he last competed in the World Masters Skiing Championships in 2012 in Canada at the age of 91. Back in his youth, when he was just a kid of 87, Wiik returned from World Masters in McCall, Idaho, with a pair of silver medals. But what he remembers to this day is that some 88-year-old from Russia finished first.
When Sven emigrated from his native Sweden to Chicago in 1949, he only intended to spend six months in the States while coaching cross country skiing. But he landed a job as ski coach at Western State College in Gunnison where he spent 19 years as a professor of health and physical education. That led to him being named the U.S. Olympic cross country coach in 1960 at Squaw Valley, California.
Sven and his wife, Birthe, moved to Steamboat soon after the Winter Olympics and established the Scandinavian Lodge on upper Burgess Creek Road. Their daughter, Birgita Lindgren, and granddaughter, Kajsa Lindgren, are continuing the family tradition at the Touring Center.
Lucky us…to have so many humble skiing legends in our midst, right here in Steamboat Springs.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After almost four years of providing service to the community as a standalone, full-service emergency department, Steamboat Emergency Center will end its operations April 30.