Thursday, September 19, 2019
Christin Cooper Makes Mark on Champions Row
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Christin Cooper lives by the motto, “If you can’t get into it, get out of it. And if you can’t get out of it, get into it.”
 
Saturday, August 31, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Christin Cooper realized at 10 years of age that Bald Mountain was to become her playground when her family moved to Ketchum in the late 1960s.

“Becky Patterson took me up on the mountain and I took to it and I loved it. It gave me a sense of belonging. The ski team became my tribe and it still is, really. And it instilled in me the drive for excellence, the drive to be better today than I was yesterday,” she said.

Cooper’s tribe was out in force Thursday afternoon as a bronze statue honoring Cooper’s success as an Olympic and World Cup medalist was unveiled in Sun Valley’s Festival Meadows.

 
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Christin Cooper, whose tenacity shows in statue says she’s like to see NASTAR made free to inspire youngsters to ski racing.
 

The statue, which features Cooper making an aggressive turn around a slalom pole, sits next to a statue of Gretchen Fraser, who was the first American to win an alpine ski medal, winning gold and silver at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz.

“There’s been some grumbling that my statue is so much lower, but Gretchen towers over us. She was the first,” Cooper said. “She invited me to tea after I got back from racing in Europe. And she taught me about being a gracious human being, which took a little for me to grow into.”

The statues of Fraser and Cooper are part of a growing monument titled Our Olympic Ladies. It was started by Sun Valley developer Brian Barsotti as a way to honor six Olympic and Paralympic medalists who grew up training at Sun Valley Resort. As funds become available, additional sculptures will honor Picabo Street, Kaitlyn Farrington, Susie Corrock and Muffy Davis.

The City of Sun Valley agreed to provide a permanent place for the statues three years after the statue of Fraser was unveiled. It wasn’t a difficult decision, as the gateway for Sun Valley seems the perfect place for people to enjoy the presentation of Our Olympic Ladies, said Council Member Jane Conard.

 
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Christin Cooper, flanked by her brother Cam Cooper and mother Glenn Janss, was honored by Sun Valley Resort, which renamed the Silver Fox run on Seattle Ridge “Christin’s Silver” in honor of her Olympic success.
 

“I know this community knows about these women. But the world needs to know how many great Olympians came from this area,” said Sculptor Ben Victor. “These are amazing women who’ve accomplished so much.”

 “This is the place where Our Olympic Ladies was meant to be,” added Muffy Davis, who won a fistful of medals at Winter Paralympics in Nagano and Salt Lake City before going on to win handcycle medals at the Summer Paralympics in London. “I think of all the little girls and women who will walk or ride by on their bikes and say, ‘One of these days that’s going to be me.’ And we’ll have Olympic ladies all the way down the field.”

Christin Cooper learned to ski at Mammoth Mountain when she was 5. But she honed her skills under the tutelage of Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation coaches on Baldy after her mother—Glenn Janss—moved her brood to Sun Valley following the death of her husband to cancer.

Cooper made the U.S. Ski Team at 16 and went on to win six national titles, five World Cup victories, 26 World Cup podiums and 65 top 10s on the World Cup Circuit. She also became the first—and still only—female American triple medalist in a single World Championships.

 
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“Silver’s more valuable than the gold—it’s heavier,” Christin Cooper quipped about her Olympic medal.
 

She won the first of two giant slalom runs on a foggy, snowy day in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, during the 1984 Winter Olympics. But she made a big mistake on the second run.

“I had to reset. I knew I had to fight to make up the lost time. At first, I was disappointed that I hadn’t gotten gold. Then I realized only three of us medaled. And I thought to myself, ‘Today I’m one of the best. I’m going to be happy with it.’ And I am. It’s also a lesson I took into life—it’s not all about medals. It’s about fighting to do your best,” said Cooper, who retired at 24 following the Olympics and went on to become a broadcaster, calling six Winter Olympic Games.

“I never won a medal on perfect terrain,” she added. “I won medal by fighting. And Coach Michel (Rudigoz) taught us, ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun.’ If I came back from Europe with bad results, he’s said, ‘Go ski. We’ll train later.’ ”

Sun Valley Mayor Peter Hendricks cautioned the crowd against calling Cooper—or any other Olympian “former Olympian.”

 
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A custom-designed wine bottle was made to help raise funds for additional Our Olympic Ladies statues.
 

“I’m married to an Olympian,” he said, pointing out Lisa-Marie Allen, who placed fifth as a figure skater in the 1980 Winter Olympics. “And they always are and always will be Olympians.”

Davis, who won 25 World Cup medals after a ski training accident left her paralyzed, said she never knew Cooper growing up.

“But I knew of her. She’s who I wanted to be. She was this amazing, precise, talented skier with perfect racing form. And since I’ve come to know her, I’ve learned that not only is she an amazing athlete but a fantastic person.”

Cooper has worked hard to pave the way for today’s children to experience the thrill of ski racing and, perhaps, of one day competing on the world stage.

She and her husband—former U.S. Ski Team member Mark Tache—co-founded the Janss Pro-Am Classic to raise money to help the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation provide scholarships for its young skiers and boarders.

And they established the Cooper-Tache First Tracks Fund to raise donations to make the SVSEF’s alpine, cross country skiing and snowboarding programs accessible to Wood River Valley children who would otherwise not be able to participate.

More than 130 local children befitted from the program during the 2018-19 season. And SVSEF Director  Scott McGrew announced on Thursday that Brian Barsotti and the Bald Mountain Fund had made a $10,000 pledge to that and to the new nonprofit organization IWAF, or Idaho Women’s Athletic Foundation.

IWAF will honor local Olympians’ legacies with grants and scholarships, as well, said Davis. It will also  raise funds to complete Our Olympic Ladies Monument, which will be the largest women’s sports monument in the world. And the Olympians will seek to inspire and empower future female athletes and leaders in Idaho through speaking tours.

“Skiing provided me all the lessons I needed in life. I didn’t go to college. I learned to read and write, but mainly my education took place on that mountain up there,” Cooper said, nodding towards Baldy. “That’s where I learned important lessons, like: Show up. Take responsibility for myself. Persevere through adversity. All these are what we need to instill in kids today. And even just one year on a sports team can give that to a kid.”

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Learn more about the COOPER-TACHE FIRST TRACKS FUND by contacting Scott McGrew at scott@svsef.org or 208-720-3829. Or, contact Cynthia Knight at cknight@svsef.org or 603-738-2671.

Support OUR OLYMPIC LADIES by purchasing the second in a series of six limited edition custom designed etched and hand painted wine bottles featuring a portrait of Sun Valley’s greats. Or make a tax-deductible donation to the Bald Mountain Rescue Fund at Box 370, Ketchum, ID 83340.

Those making donations of $15,000 get a six-liter bottle plus their name on pedestal as a major donor. Those making a $25,000 donation get a 3-liter bottle plus a miniature bronze maquette of the statue and their name placed on the pedestal as major donor.

Meanwhile, Brian Barsotti said he’s still looking for a home for a second statue of Gretchen Fraser that features the long-time Sun Valley skier standing with her skis.

To learn more, call Brian Barsotti at 208-726-3030.

Learn more about the IWAF (IDAHO WOMENS ATHLETIC FOUNDATION) at www.IdahoWAF.org.

 

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