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Birger Ruud

The War Intervenes

In 1940, the war came to Norway. Despite repeated promises not to occupy Norway, the Germans invaded in April. Ruud opposed the occupation, as did much of the populace. One of his methods of protesting was to hold unsanctioned ski events to raise money for the resistance. For his part in these ski events, Ruud was arrested in 1943 and placed in the Grini concentration camp. After his release in 1944, Ruud began to work for the resistance. The British would drop artillery and other supplies in the mountains and countryside. Ruud would use his skill and strength as a skier to locate the dropped items.

One of the consequences of World War II was the cancellation of both the 1940 and the 1944 Olympics. Sports scholars and fans alike wonder what other awards could have come to Ruud had he had the opportunity to compete in those games. Fortunately, Ruud was able to prove his abilities one more time in the 1948 St. Moritz Olympics. By this time he was thirty-six years old, which was considered too old to compete. He went to the games as the ski jump coach, but ended up competing in the event and winning a silver medal for his effort.


1911 Born August 23 in Kongsberg, Norway
1932 Competes in Lake Placid Olympics
1936 Competes in both Alpine and Nordic events in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympics
1938 Competes in First Annual Southern California Open Ski Jump Meet
1940 Germany occupies Norway
1943 Stages illegal ski competitions; arrested and sent to Grini concentration camp for 18 months
1944 Joins Resistance
1948 Attends St. Moritz Olympics as coach
1986 Kongsberg Ski Museum that Ruud helped establish opens
1994 Carries Olympic flag at Lillehammer Olympics
1998 Dies on June 13

After Ruud retired from Olympic competition, he spent the rest of his life promoting skiing to the youth of Norway. He was also partially responsible for establishing the Kongsberg Ski Museum. His achievements are recognized throughout Norway, where he is considered by some to be the Jesse Owens of ski jumping. Although his name is not common outside skiing circles or in the United States, he is a national hero to the Norwegians. His commitment and achievements in the ski jump brought notoriety to his country. His patriotism in the face of German occupation earned him the respect of his countrymen.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsSkiingBirger Ruud Biography - A Family Of Ski Jumpers, The War Intervenes, Chronology, Further Information, Awards And Accomplishments