and the Donner Summit area; and along with German skier Milana Jank,
Walton-Hurley’s uncle, Dennis Jones, made the first ski crossing of Tioga Pass
when they journeyed from Topaz Lake, Nev., to Yosemite Valley in 1932.
Walton-Hurley herself was among the great, young stars of American ski
racing in the 1950s and ‘60s. Having won multiple U.S. national championships throughout her career, she also became, in 1957, the youngest person
ever to win Sugar Bowl’s Silver Belt race at the age of 15. (For those not familiar with the Silver Belt — which, in its first incarnation, ran from 1940 to
1975 — the race often featured the world’s best skiers. Past winners include
the likes of Christian Pravda, Linda Myers, and Buddy Werner, to name just
Walton-Hurley would have been on the 1960 U.S. Olympic team at Squaw
Valley, but a broken foot during qualifications the year before prevented her
from participating. Instead, she was presented with the honor of carrying the
Olympic Flame that year (something she would do again 42 years later when
she participated in the Olympic Torch Relay for the Salt Lake 2002 Games).
With the dream of becoming an Olympic athlete still in her heart, Walton-Hurley joined another American ski racing legend in Colorado to prepare for
the 1964 Games at Innsbruck.
“I went to the University of Colorado at Boulder because Bob Beattie, who
was also the U.S. Ski Team coach, was working there,” says Walton-Hurley.
“Back then we had only two choices: you could either go to school and train
for the Olympics, or have a full-time job outside of skiing to support yourself
while you trained ... You might say that I was part of one of the last truly amateur Olympic teams. We all did it for love of the sport and there was really no
other incentive. Since then, the advent of the World Cup has brought all kinds
of monetary issues into the sport.”
Walton-Hurley placed 14th in the downhill at Innsbruck, and though she
didn’t win a medal, she says the experience of having become an Olympian
proves invaluable every day. “The greatest gift from ski racing, for me, was the
ability to see the rest of the world,” says Walton-Hurley. “In 1964, the world
was still a very big place, and for me to be able to meet people from across the
globe was a real blessing. The ability to establish international relationships
laid a foundation for the things I’ve done throughout my life.”
Each year, Walton-Hurley still gets together with other Olympians from
Starr Walton-Hurley (far right) takes a break from skiing at Deer Valley with pals Pam Hobday, Peter
Picard and Stein Eriksen.
favorite causes is
the global organization Sister Cities, which,
according to its mission, aims to “promote peace
through mutual respect, understanding, and
cooperation — one individual, one community at
Walton-Hurley is Sacramento’s honorary counsel
to its sister city in Hamilton, New Zealand. “It’s
sort of an all-encompassing role,” says Walton-
Hurley. “I might lend some support to a citizen
of New Zealand who’s living in Sacramento with
visa complications, for example. Or, because
Sacramento is the capital of California, I may play
a hand in facilitating a visit when dignitaries or
government officials from the country come and
visit us. Mostly, it’s plain fun, though.”
Sacramento has eight sister cities, and though
Walton-Hurley’s primary responsibility is Hamilton,
she also leads delegations elsewhere in the world.
“I just got back from our sister city in South
Korea,” says Walton-Hurley. “We had a great time.
It’s amazing how an organization can foster peace
and understanding simply by putting people in
contact with one another — even people who may
come from very [disparate cultures].”
her era — skiers such
as Italy’s Pia Riva and
Linda Myers — to ski
in Colorado. “We call
the gathering ‘
Olympic Ladies,’” says Walton-Hurley. “We have
a lot of fun.”
Though she’s sometimes elegiac about a bygone era, Walton-Hurley says
that today, skiing and ski racing still bring lifelong joy to those who participate. “Skiing brings families together,” says Walton. “It allows families to do
something together at all levels and all ages, and that is very rare in the age
of the Internet.”
When asked about her next big adventure, Walton-Hurley’s response is fitting. “Well,” she says, “I hear Colorado just got some snow.”
For more on the Transplant Games, visit wwtg.org; for more on the National Kidney Foundation, visit kidney.org. And, email firstname.lastname@example.org with Role Model ideas.
Attendees at the Winter World Transplant Games gather
with Starr Walton-Hurley.