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Muffy Davis Takes the Stage with Michael Phelps and Other Sports Legends
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Monday, June 27, 2022
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTOS COURTESY MB DAVIS

Sun Valley’s Muffy Davis took her place alongside Michael Phelps, Lindsey Vonn, Michelle Kwan and Mia Hamm this weekend as she was inducted into the 2022 class of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame.

Davis was one of 12 athletes inducted during a ceremony in Colorado Springs. Nine were women. And one of those women was Sun Valley’s Gretchen Fraser, the first American to win an alpine ski medal at a Winter Olympics and a mentor for Davis.

“I was able to meet her grandchildren. And I learned something about Gretchen I’d never known—that she was also named to the 1940 U.S. Olympic team. But the Olympics were not held that year because of the war,” Davis said of Fraser, who won gold and silver medals at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz.

Davis won a fistful of medals as a monoskier in the 1998 and 2002 Paralympics in all four alpine ski categories. Then, after a hiatus, she returned to competing, winning three gold medals in handcycling at the 2012 Paralympics in London.

She grew up racing alongside fellow Sun Valley skier Picabo Street, who was inducted in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004. But Davis was paralyzed at age 16 when she veered off the Greyhawk cat track while going 50 miles per hour and hit two trees.

After graduating from Stanford University, she learned to monoski and began competing in what was then a fledgling Paralympic movement.

“When for an aspiring Olympian, the unthinkable happens and a tragic accident throws all plans off course, I realize how blessed I was to be at the birth of a liberating movement for athletes with disabilities,” she told those attending the Hall of Fame.

“The International Paralympic Movement was founded that same year I found myself a qualifying member. I don’t know how my life would have turned out had this oh-so-vital and powerful movement not been formed, but I am immensely thankful it was and that I never had to change who I was born to be, because of my disability- I was still an athlete, a competitor.”

In addition to Davis, Phelps, Vonn, Kwan, Fraser and Hamm, other inductees to this year’s Hall of Fame class included swimmer Natalie Coughlin; wheelchair basketball star David Kiley, para swimmer Trischa Zorn-Hudson, the 1976 Women’s 4x100 Freestyle Relay Swimming Team, the 2002 Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, track and field star Roger Kingdom, basketball coach Pat Summitt and special contributor Billie Jean King.

Fellow Idahoan Kristin Armstrong, a three-time Olympic gold medal cyclist, was nominated but was not a finalist.

“It was a powerhouse induction,” said Davis. “Of course, Michael Phelps was wonderful. He’s definitely very tall and he spoke about his work with mental health and how important it is so he’s doing great work to help the next generation. Lindsey Vonn is as sweet as could be—beautiful inside and out. Michelle Kwan is just adorable and nice as can be, and she’d just had a baby….

“I got to see the U.S. Sled Hockey Team, which I haven’t seen in a long while so it was a reunion of sorts. And I got to have dinner with (soccer star) Mia Hamm and her two daughters and we talked about kids and skiing and all sorts of things.”

Davis noted that she was born the year Title IX was passed into law, securing for her and other females the right to access and opportunity to sports and athletic competition.

“I never questioned that I could be an Olympian--of course I could!” she added. “For that opportunity, I have to thank the many, many fierce, strong female athletes and leaders who fought, unwaveringly, for me and all future generations of girls and women athletes to have that right!”

That said, she never dreamed even as a little girl that she would one day be inducted into the national Hall of Fame—it was just too lofty a goal.

“It was an extraordinary night. I don’t now how to describe it,” she said. “It was even greater than a bucket list thing. I was speechless, and it’s very rare I’m speechless.”

That said, Davis said all the work she put into learning to monoski after her accident and the grueling hours of handcycle practice were worth it, even before she was so honored.

“That night was incredibly humbling and honoring, but I would have done everything I did and competed all over again, even without that. It was my passion.”

Davis served until recently in the state legislature and now serves as a Blaine County commissioner.

A two-time member of the International Paralympic Committee Governing Board, she currently sits on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Governing Board and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic  Advisory Council.

“We’ve done a great job since I started in 2010,” she said. “There are more athletes participating in Paralympics. They’re getting equal funding, and we’re working on athletes betting sponsorships. For me, equity and inclusion are so important. I want to make sure at the end of the day that some little girl in a wheelchair has these important role models.”

MB Davis was a proud mom on the scene.

"It was wonderful hearing all the things these athletes are doing now to make their communities and our countries a better place," she said. "Michelle Kwan is ambassador to Bélize, Michael Phelps is spokesperson and contributor to entities who work for mental health, Dave Kiley continues to mentor and support young athletes in basketball and other sports and so much more!  It was such an uplifting and encouraging opportunity to see the good in our country. I was proud to be an American."

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