When Billy Kidd won the silver and Jimmie Heuga the bronze in
the slalom at the Innsbruck Winter Games in 1964--the first
American men to be awarded Olympic Alpine skiing medals--they
became linked in the minds of sports fans, like Affirmed and
Alydar. "We didn't realize how dramatically it would change our
lives," says Kidd, 55.
The two remained friendly rivals on the slopes--with Kidd
generally a ski-length ahead--until 1968, when Heuga retired.
Two years later Kidd became the first skier to win combined
titles at both the amateur and the professional world
championships in a single year, then he too retired. Since then
he has been director of skiing at the Steamboat Ski and Resort
Corporation in Steamboat Springs, Colo., and has worked as a
television commentator. "I'm either skiing or talking about
skiing," says Kidd, who lives with his girlfriend, Hollis
Brooks, and his daughter, Hayley, 15, from a marriage that also
produced sons Stirling, 22, and Christian, 19.
For Heuga, also 55, life took a harsh turn in 1970. He was found
to have multiple sclerosis. His doctors ordered him to refrain
from any athletic activity, but six years later, depressed and
frustrated--"I just couldn't stand waiting around for a magical
cure," he says--he started bicycling every day. Soon he was
swimming. Then skiing. In 1984 he founded the Jimmie Heuga
Center for the Reanimation of the Physically Challenged, in
Edwards, Colo. Today his groundbreaking approach to living with
MS, which emphasizes physical activity, is widely accepted by
neurologists who treat the disease. "I'm the least qualified
person to run a medical center," he says, "but I do know how to
live. You can't just wait for the lights to be shut off."
Over the last three decades Heuga and Kidd have forged a deep
friendship. Kidd is on the board of the Heuga Center and is
godfather to two of Jimmie's sons, Blaze, 7, and Winston, 4.
Jimmie, who lives in Edwards with his wife, Debbie, their eldest
son, Wilder, 9, Blaze and Winston, is godfather to Hayley Kidd.
"Jimmie is an inspiration to everyone," Kidd says. "He doesn't
think about MS as a disability but as a challenge."
March 15, 1999
While Heuga, who has been confined to a wheelchair since 1994,
remains upbeat, his athletic activity is now limited to
stretching. He often receives calls from former adversaries such
as Jean-Claude Killy and, of course, visits from Kidd. More than
anything, Heuga treasures his bonds to the men he skied against.
"It was a fun sport," he says. "My adversaries became my friends."
"Jimmie is an inspiration," says Kidd (left) of Heuga's fight
with multiple sclerosis.