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Passing Date: 
Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sven Wiik, who coached generations of cross country skiers in Colorado, died July 5 at age 95, at the Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs.

Born in Solleftea, Sweden, Wiik trained as both a cross country racer and gymnast, and competed in gymnastics at the 1948 Olympics in London, when it was a demonstration sport. He emigrated to Chicago in 1949, but was quickly recruited, by Gerry Groswold, to coach skiing at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. He stayed there 19 years. He coached the 1958 U.S. cross country team at the World Championships in Finland, and the 1960 U.S. Olympic cross-country team in Squaw Valley, Californiaith coach Marty Hall, designed the course of the Birkebeiner — North America’s premier ski marathon from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin.

Wiik was active in the campaign to make skiing an NCAA sport, and served on the original NCAA Ski Rules Committee. He became a USSA official, serving on the USSEF Board of Trustees,  the USSA Nordic Competition Committee and the USSA Olympic Committee.

Following the 1960 Winter Olympics, Wiik and wife Bitte built the Scandinavian Lodge in Steamboat Springs. They followed up by launching the Steamboat Ski Touring Center near the alpine resort. Together, the hotel and trail network served as an important training center for American skiers headed for international competition. The Touring Center is still run by Wiik’s offspring.

Wiik was awarded the USSA’s Julius Blegen Award in 1974, and was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 1979 and the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1981. In 1980 he served as a chief steward at the Lake Placid Olympics.

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