Day 345: Heidi Voelker
It all looked so promising. And then, without warning, Heidi Voelker’s life went all downhill.
OK, the pun’s intended. Voelker, the Pittsfield native who took her downhill ski talents to the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont at an early age, emerged from that environment to become an eight-year member of the U.S. Ski Team, competing on the World Cup circuit in the slalom and giant slalom during that time, while also representing the United States and Pittsfield in the Winter Olympics held in Calgary (1988), Albertville (1992) and Lillehammer (1994).
Voelker joined the U.S. team at the age of 19. Her high watermark on the Cup tour was a third-place finish in the GS in 1994. Voelker was the national champion in that discipline the same year. Her three Olympic berths were disappointing only to her. The efforts resulted in a number of "did not finish," the dreaded DNF next to her name, but that was only because Voelker neither knew how nor wanted to hold back on such a spectacular stage. When you are competing weekly with the world’s elite, it’s easy to look at what didn’t happen instead of what did. That Voelker was on the U.S. team for eight years spoke volumes about her ability and desire. Respect among her peers was such that she was always viewed as ultra-competitive and a threat to medal at any time.
The youngest of four children, Voelker was on skis at the age of 2, tracking around with father, Larry, and her three siblings. She is now the Ambassador of Skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, and with her husband is raising sons Lucas and Stefan. Voelker remains on skis and by all accounts still loves to come down the mountain fast and hard.
It was the only way she knew to play the game. And in that sense, she never let down herself or her native city.
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