Steamboat Springs has produced more than its share of Olympic skiers, but the best of them all remains as Gordon “Gordy” Wren, the do-it-all-guy of the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He is one of the only American skiers ever to qualify for both Nordic and Alpine events. And his second in combined jumping and fifth in special jumping was the best-ever performance by an American ski jumper.
Born and raised in Steamboat Springs, Wren was the first American jumper ever to surpass 300 feet. Elected to the United States Ski Association’s Hall of Fame in 1956, Wren has been much more than just a superb skier. He has been an excellent coach and instructor and has developed outstanding junior programs. As coach and ski area director from 1949-55, Wren helped produce seven boys and girls of Olympic caliber.
Until Wren was about thirteen years old, the only turning on skis he had ever done was at the outrun of a ski jump. Then he was exposed to the turns and christies of Alpine ski racing. At sixteen, Wren built a slalom course alongside the jumping course hill behind his house and practiced daily. He made the U.S. Olympic Ski Team in 1939.
During World War II, Wren was, naturally, a member of the famed Tenth Mountain Division. After the war, Wren showed he still had his touch by winning the 1946 Harrinam Cup at Sun Valley and by doing well in the 1946 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, which he feels to be his greatest moment in sports. “I knew that I had put together two good jumps in the competition and that I could place pretty well. As it turned out, it was fifth best an American had ever done in the special jumps. He also won the National Classic Combined in Berlin, New Hampshire in 1950.
Wren returned to Steamboat Springs in 1950 and spent the next seven years as manager of the Howelsen Hill Ski Area. After three years in Reno, he returned to manage the Loveland Ski Area. From there, he went to Jackson Hole as general manager of its massive ski complex. In 1967, Mt. Werner came of age, and Wren returned to Steamboat to supervise the planning and placement of its lifts and trails.
In 1971, he joined the Middle Park Land and Cattle Company, working with the proposed large recreation area near Hahns Peak. In addition, they made a comprehensive study of the Sand Mountain Ski Complex.
Along the line, Wren also coached the first Denver University Ski Team, was the developer of the Eskimo Ski program, helped originate the Winter Park Ski School and served as an official at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics. He has also served as a member of the Colorado Commission.
Wren feels that it was not easy to get the reward and honor of being inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1972. “I wanted to be in the Hall of Fame, but was not sure if I had the credentials. I have always been interested in all sports. It is a great feeling to be along side of other athletes who I was very fond of. I am proud to be in this group.”
On April 10, 1979, Wren was also inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame, which is in Vail, Colorado.
Wren went on to be the Director of Public Affairs for Energy Fuel Corporation, the largest surface mine in Colorado. He and his wife Jean retired in Steamboat Springs and enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping and hiking on the half-mile course behind their home.
All four of the Wren children have been involved in sports and have excelled. Wendy was on a Junior National Cross Country Ski Team in 1967. David participated on five Junior National Nordic Teams from 1965-69, and he held the mile record in Triple A for the West Slope of Colorado. Laurie, the number two daughter, was on a Junior National Cross Country team two-times in 1967 and 1968. She also held a West Slope record in girls track in Triple A for the 880. The third daughter, Cindy, was the Colorado State Champion in uneven parallel bars in 1970.
Until Wren was about thirteen years old, the only turning on skis he had ever done was at the outrun of a ski jump.