When Suzy Harris-Rytting began skiing, luxuries were considered a good day and warm hands. Skiers were supposed to be uncomfortable, they were simply there to ski. It was the dawn of the sport and it can be said of Suzy Harris-Rytting that she was one of the best of the pioneers.
On skis of wood and boots that would be used for hiking these days, Rytting cut between the gates with such skill and confidence that she was selected to represent the United States on two Olympic teams and on one FIS (Federation of International Ski) team.It was also her ticket into the National Ski Hall of Fame and most recently into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame.
She started skiing at age 13, and though the years have passes, and with them ski seasons, her love for the sport hasn't. Now, she admits, she often skis with her grandchildren, "My ski buddies."
Her first introduction to the Olym pics was in 1948. Instead of traveling to Norway, however, she was kept in the U.S. to compete at home. That year she won every race she entered, and the national combined title in slalom and downhill.
The second time she did, in fact, travel to Europe to compete, but became ill with what she thought was the flu. What she found was that she and her husband of two years, William, were expecting their first child. It was at the time, she says today, something people didn't want to talk about. "They do now, but not back then," she adds. She was sent home.
Asked if one things sticks out in her mind about her competition days, she readily admits it's winning the national giant slalom title at Alta in 1951, just before the Olympics.
"I was working at the time, six days a week, and couldn't train much. I remember when I did my husband drove the car around while I ran. He didn't want me to get into trouble and he didn't want to run, either, so he drove. Even with all of that I won. I beat the top people in skiing," she recalls.
Among her other wins were the Herbert Snow Cup downhill in Idaho and the Harriman Cup, among the top ski races in the country at the time, in Sun Valley in 1948.
Between 1944 and 1948, she skied in more than 25 events. In those races she won 13 firsts, four seconds and never got below ninth.
In March, she was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame for her success in national and international competition.