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2019 was a hall of fame year for Jim Shea Jr.

U.S. skeleton gold medalist named to Utah Sports Hall of Fame

January 3, 2020
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - U.S. Olympic skeleton gold medalist Jim Shea Jr. was recently inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, four months after being named to the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Hall of Fame.

Shea's parents, Judy and Jim Shea Sr. of Lake Placid, were at the Oct. 14 induction ceremony at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Jim Jr. was the first U.S. skeleton athlete to win a World Cup race and a World Championship (1999) in the sport of skeleton, and he has won more World Cup victories than any other American. He won a gold medal in skeleton at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and retired in October 2005.

Article Photos

With his grandfather’s funeral card tucked inside his helmet, Jim Shea Jr. won the gold Feb. 20, 2002, during the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, finishing his two skeleton runs at Utah Olympic Park in 1 minute, 41.96 seconds.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

Shea's father competed in the cross-country skiing and Nordic combined events at the 1964 Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria. His grandfather, Jack Shea, won two gold medals in speedskating at the 1932 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, where he grew up and spent many years as town of North Elba supervisor and judge. Jack died on Jan. 22, 2002 at the age of 91 after a car crash just weeks before his grandson won a gold medal.

The Sheas were the first family to enter three consecutive generations of athletes into the Winter Olympics. Jim Jr. and his father carried the Olympic torch during the 2002 opening ceremony.

"My grandfather used to dream about me competing in the Olympics," Jim Jr. said the day of his grandfather's death. "When I qualified for the games, he could not have been more proud."

Jim Jr. won his gold medal on Feb. 20, 2002 with his grandfather's funeral card tucked inside his helmet.

"I definitely felt him here," he said after the race. "I felt him at the opening ceremonies. He has a lot of friends here. I think he had some unfinished business here before he went to heaven and now he can go."

In his bio for the induction, the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation called Jim Jr.'s win "one of the most poignant, memorable moments of Utah's 2002 Olympics, winning his gold medal in the first men's skeleton race staged since 1948."

Jim Jr. joined five other athletes in the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019: Shauna Rohbock, 2006 Olympic bobsled silver medalist; Jim Laub, Utah State University benefactor; brothers Richard and David Barnes, the first Utahns to swim the English Channel; and Chris Hill, former University of Utah athletics director. Presenting his with the award were Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation President Norma Carr and President-elect Doug Toole.

The honor comes six months after Jim Jr. was named to the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Hall of Fame along with five others: brothers Curtis and Hubert Stevens, who won the gold medal in two-man bobsled during the 1932 Winter Olympics; Alan "Bob" Washbond and Ivan Brown, the Keene Valley duo who won a gold medal in the two-man bobsled during the 1936 Olympic Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; and John Rutherford "Jack" Heaton, a three-time Olympian who won two silver medals in skeleton (1928 and 1948) and one bronze in bobsled (1932). The nominees were honored during a June 21 ceremony.

"We are excited to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of these individuals with our athletes during our national team camp," then USABS CEO Darrin Steele said in May.

The USABS Hall of Fame recognizes people who have made contributions to the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the U.S.

Shea was born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, and he moved to Lake Placid in his late teens. He is the father of three children and currently lives in Park City, Utah.

Jack Shea was inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame in 1983, the year it was established, along with Olympic speedskating gold medalist Charles Jewtraw, sports writer Mike Strauss, figure skating coach Gus Lussi, Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee President J. Bernard Fell, philanthropist Henry Uihlein II, figure skating competitor and judge Ardelle Sanderson and the entire 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

Jim Shea Sr. was inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame in 2012.

Jim Shea Jr. has not been inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame.

 
 
 

 

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