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In 1964, Billy Kidd became the first American to win an Olympic medal.  We met Billy in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where he now lives.  He meets anyone who wants to ski with him on the top of the mountain and gives them helpful hints as everyone skis down together in a group.  He loves to teach kids about skiing.  When we met with him he spent two hours with us telling us many times that we could be Olympic skiers one day.  By the time we finished interviewing him, he made us believe it could really happen. 

Have you ever been scared while skiing?  How do you deal with it?

Are you kidding, who wouldn’t be scared? You cover two miles in two minutes at top speeds of 95 mph.  They spray water on the course so it’s as icy as a skating rink.  If you’re not scared, you’re in the hospital.  But you work up to it. Ski at 5 mph, then 25, and before you know it, you can do it.

Where’s your medal?

It’s on loan to Colorado Spring Museum in Vail.  Each medal and design is different for each Olympics so people really want to see it so I put it in the museum.

What was your most embarrassing skiing moment?

You make mistakes in skiing.  You can play in a Superbowl and make a mistake and still have hours to make it up.  But with skiing you get one chance every 4 years for 2 minutes.  In my first Olympic race, I got so nervous I could barely stand up. I was 20, in the starting gate, from a town of 1700 people, Stowe, Vermont.  I’d never seen 50,000 people in one place in my life.  I’d never been to a baseball or football game.  All these cameras and people are looking at me.  My top speed would be 85 mph on ice.  And I thought to myself “I got one chance.”  I remember standing and the starter said “Okay 30 seconds,” and my knees got weak and I felt like I had a big leather belt around my chest.  I couldn’t breath.  I pushed out anyway because you can’t call a time out.  If you don’t go, well come back in four more years.  I pushed off, made a mistake and was 16th.  The next race was a couple of days later and a week later the slalom.  My concentration was better and that’s where I won a silver medal.  I was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and went on to win a gold medal in the world championship.

Has anyone ever made fun of you? 

Sure, I’m a horrible athlete.  In the Fall, when we’d train, we’d play basketball and soccer. I was the worst so when they’d choose teams they’d fight, “You take Kidd” and they’d say “We took him last time so you take him this time.” I didn’t really care.


Cartoon Character:       Superman, The Lone Ranger -I like his hat

Ice Cream Flavor:        Chocolate

Toy as a Kid:               Bicycle

Color:                          Blue

Animal:                        Birds

Food:                           Maple syrup

Drink:                          Orange juice

President:                     Ford, skied with him, surprisingly good

Book:                          Seven years in Tibet

Movie:                         Pirates of the Caribbean