Steamboat Springs, CO. Dec. 3--Gordy Wren, the only U.S. skier to make four Olympic teams in one winter, was remembered Wednesday for his skills on skis, on mountains and in life.
Wren, 80, died of cancer Nov. 25 - Thanksgiving Day - at his Steamboat home. A memorial service was held Wednesday in Olympian Hall, at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club base lodge at Howelsen Hill where he was manager for a brief time with the sports club; he also was alpine and nordic coach there, helping start dozens of local youngsters on their competitive careers.
Born in Steamboat Springs in 1919, he turned down scholarship offers to Dartmouth and Denver University, among others, so he could train for the Olympics. He served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II in Italy.
When he returned home, Wren was involved with the Winter Sports Club, running Howelsen Hill while he also trained for the Olympics. "If you did your best, if you gave 100 percent, you were okay with Gordy. But if you didn't, you'd hear about it," said 1968 Olympic alpine racer Jim (Moose) Barrows, who was a lightweight jumper when he Wren was his first coach at the age of seven. "Gordy Wren wrote vthe bookon 'tough love.'"
In '48, Wren made the alpine, cross country, jumping and nordic combined teams; at the Games in St. Moritz, he decided not to compete in alpine because he didn't have time to train. Wren finished fifth in jumping, the best performance by an American-born jumper in the Olympics (1924 bronze medalist Anders Haugen was born in Norway before moving to the USA)...until Jeff Hastings was fourth in the large hill jumping at the 1984 Games in Sarajevo.
Wren, who also competed in the 1950 nordic World Championships in Lake Placid and Rumford, Maine, later ran Loveland Basin (Colo.) in the Fifties, was director of recreation for Reno, Nev., in the late '50s, and was the general manager at Jackson Hole Ski Area and Steamboat Ski Corp. when those areas got started in the Sixties.
He was inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1978 - a group that included two-time Olympic gold medalist Andrea Mead Lawrence, Dick Durrance - America's first major international racer, and National Ski Patrol founder "Minnie" Dole. Wren also was in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
Surviving are his widow, Jean, and four children - three daughters and a son.