American Alpine ski racer James Heuga dies at age 66

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Photograph of James Heuga.
Image: Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.

American Alpine ski racer James Heuga has died at the age of 66. Heuga won a bronze medal at the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck.

Richard Rokos, a coach who helped Heuga with his training in his later years commented on his death. He said "He tried to do his best, and when he didn't do as well as he was hoping for, he was disappointed. He couldn't walk, he couldn't run, he couldn't do anything else, but this was the way he could present himself as a competitive athlete. An icon is gone”.

Heuga competed for the United States at the 1964 Winter Olympics. He won a bronze medal in the slalom with a time of 2.11.52. Heuga, along with Billy Kidd who won silver in the same event became the first Americans to win a medal in Alpine ski racing.

Forced to retire early from competitive sport due to multiple sclerosis, Heuga continued to train as an athlete. In 1984 he opened up the Jimmie Heuga Center to help sufferers with multiple sclerosis.

Billy Kidd, whom he shared the podium with at the 1964 games, said “Obviously, the world knew him for his accomplishments as a ski racer, but I admire him even more because of how he led his life, especially with the challenges of MS.”

He is survived by his four children.