Biathlete, Resort Founder

Passing Date: 
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
John Ray Burritt, Sr., 81, died peacefully at his home on January 7, 2015.
He was born in Cedaredge, Colorado into a pioneering farming family on Redlands Mesa, where he learned to shoot and hunt. He graduated from Hotchkiss  High School in 1952, then completed his college education at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. While at Western, he competed in football, track, and was introduced to his lifelong passion of cross-country skiing. 
John was a member of Western State’s cross-country ski team that won the NCAA Cross Country Championship in 1956, and he was a member of the Western State team that won the Colorado 4 x 10 Relay Championship in 1960.
In December 1956 he competed in the first biathlon race in the U.S., held at Camp Hale, and placed in the top four.  He joined the Army the following year, and married Barbara Wheeler. He was selected to the U.S. Biathlon training center, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. He competed in the 1959 Biathlon World Championships at Courmayeur, Italy, and qualified for the 1960 U.S. Olympic  Team competing at the Olympics at Squaw Valley. He finished 14th in the 20k biathlon – the best American finish in that event for several more decades.  
In 1966 John opened Rimrock Ski Area  on Grand Mesa, and operated it for four years.  During most of the 1960s and 70s he also worked in both the laboratory and X-ray departments at the Delta County Memorial Hospital.
In his final decades he developed cross-country trails and programs on Grand Mesa, primarily for school-aged youth.  He organized programs and taught hundreds of children to alpine and cross-country ski, often supplying the equipment.
He is survived by sons, John Jr., Jim and Brad, and four grandchildren. 

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