Friday, April 29, 2011

My “Famous” Friend

I've met a few celebrities, but the only one I would call a friend is Putzi Crotty.  Putzi (a nickname, her real name is Josefina) was a famous Austrian ski racer who won Olympic and World Championship medals in the 1950’s (her maiden name is Frandl).  Visiting her home was quite interesting as there were ski trophies and medals strewn around the house.

Putzi and I became friends because we were co-workers on the Ski School at Copper Mountain ski resort in 1984-85.  It was the first season working there for both of us and we ended up talking and discovered that we had mutual friends.  Putzi had also taught at Mad River Mountain (Valley High) near Bellefontaine, Ohio, which is where I had learned to ski and first became a ski instructor. Later that ski season some of our Mad River friends visited us at Copper.

Putzi told me that after retiring from racing she worked as a ski instructor in Austria. In one of her classes she met US Air Force officer Patrick Crotty. They eventually married and had three children, Monica, Patrick Jr. and Joseph.  I got to know the boys pretty well as they often came up to Copper to ski.

Patrick's Air Force career took them to many places, and whenever there was a ski resort close enough Putzi would teach skiing.  I only worked that one season at Copper, but Putzi worked there from 1984 until the 2008-2009 season after which she decided to concentrate on her "second love", tennis during 2009-2010. She lives in Centennial, Colorado now.

Here’s a bit about her competition history and some stories she told me.  In the 1956 Winter Olympics she won the silver medal in the giant slalom event. In the slalom competition she finished fifth and had a 13th place finish in the downhill contest.

Putzi told me an interesting thing about the winner of the GS, Ossi Reichert.  Reichert had seriously injured an ankle in 1954, and was not expected to do well at these games. She also drew the #1 start position for the one-run event. Putzi told me that, "Ossi was disappointed to draw #1 as that was usually not a good position. The first racer down the course usually has to scrape off a bit of snow, which slows you down. But Ossi had a great run and overcame that difficulty."

Four years later, at Squaw Valley, California 1960 Winter Olympics, Putzi finished 16th in the slalom event, 21st in the giant slalom competition, and 39th in the downhill contest.

Putzi told me that she was pretty disappointed in her results in Squaw.  She felt that she had been skiing very well in the events leading up to the Olympics and expected to do well. There was very little snow in the Sierras until just before the Olympics. Finally the area received a good snowfall, just in time to keep the events from being cancelled or postponed.

Putzi and some of her friends and teammates went out to ski the fresh powder snow. Unfortunately, while coming down one run, the tip of one of her skis went under a log hidden just beneath the newly fallen snow. Her shin hit the log hard, scraping it and straining her leg. She told me that she believed that the injury possibly prevented her from winning another Olympic Medal.

Putzi also had excellent results at the 1958 World Championships, with a Silver in Slalom and Bronze in the Combined.


For other notable people I have met, click this link.


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