Peter Lahdenpera - Five-time biathlon and cross-country Olympian
Pekka Johannes “Peter” Lahdenpera of Fort Collins, Colorado, a five-time Olympian in biathlon and cross country, died on July 3.
Born December 29, 1935 in Helsinki, Finland, Lahdenpera came to the U.S. with his mother and siblings in 1948. They were following his father, Erkki Lahdenpera, an officer with the Finnish army who managed to escape capture by authorities pursuing him for his leadership role in the 1945 Finnish Weapons Cache Case. The family settled in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
Lahdenpera attended Middlebury College in Vermont, where he earned All American accolades as a member of the cross-country ski team. After graduating in 1959, he became an officer stationed at the U.S. Army’s Modern Winter Biathlon Training Center in Alaska. He competed on the U.S. cross country and biathlon teams at multiple World Championships, as well as five U.S. Olympic teams between 1960 and 1972. He was inducted into the U.S. Biathlon Association’s Hall of Fame in 2019.
Lahdenpera married Susanne Bildstein in 1960 and had two children over a fifteen-year marriage.
In 1963, Lahdenpera and Susanne co-founded the Alpine Haus sporting goods company in Fort Collins. It eventually grew to include several shops in Colorado and Wyoming, as well as a sporting goods distribution network. Later, he ran a division of Gart Brothers Sporting Goods and served on the Gart Brothers board of directors.