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Hjalmar Hvam

Hjalmar Hvam - Skiing

 

Hjalmar Hvam left a legacy for Oregon as a skier on the slopes of Mount Hood in the 1930s, and a legacy on the sport he treasured as an inventor.

Hvam, born in Norway in 1902, won a ski jumping competition at age 12, but moved to North America in 1923. He found his way to Portland in 1927 and soon co-founded the Cascade Ski Club. In 1931, he and club members Arne Stene and Andre Roch skied down Mount Hood from the summit, and are credited as being the first to accomplish that feat.

As a competitor, Hvam won the Nordic Combined title at the U.S. Championships in 1932, and qualified for the 1936 Olympic Winter Games, but did not compete due to not having his citizenship papers. In 1936, Hvam won the Golden Rose Ski Classic at Timberline, which continues to be billed as the oldest ski race in the nation – even though it’s a summer race. He won in 1937, too.

After suffering a broken leg from a fall after his second win, Hvam developed the Saf-Ski binding that would allow a ski boot to safely release from the ski during a fall. The design became popular after World War II and he sold and rented the bindings into the 1970s through ski shops he operated in Portland and on Mount Hood.

Hvam made a name for himself as a coach as well, leading the U.S. Nordic Combined team at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games.

Hvam was inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1967 and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.