Gretchen Fraser Photo

Gretchen Fraser

Born: Feb 11, 1919

Death: Feb 17, 1994

Birthplace: Tacoma

Nationality: Germany

Gretchen Fraser

Date of Birth : Feb 11, 1919
Date of Death : Feb 17, 1994
Birth Place : Tacoma

Gretchen Kunigk Fraser was an alpine ski racer, the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in skiing. The daughter of German and Norwegian immigrants, Gretchen Kunigk was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1919. Her Norwegian-born mother was a skier and Gretchen first skied at age 13, at Paradise on the south slopes of Mount Rainier in December 1932. Under the tutelage of Otto Lang she became a proficient ski racer and later competed on the ski team at the University of Puget Sound. In 1938, she traveled to Sun Valley to compete in the second Harriman Cup, a new international event featuring the best racers in the world. She met 1936 Olympian and Northwest ski champion Don Fraser of the University of Washington on the train trip to central Idaho. Their paths crossed frequently over the next year, and they were married in October, 1939. Sun Valley became their home. She was the skiing stand-in for ice skater Sonja Henie in the movies Thin Ice and Sun Valley Serenade. Both Frasers were members of the 1940 Olympic team, games that were cancelled due to World War II.

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