From the Archive: Bringing the Olympics home

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Fort Collins Local History Archive

Fort Collins had a personal share of Olympic glory in the 1960s and 70s when local resident Peter J. Lahdenpera competed in the first Olympic biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship, which debuted during the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley, California. He was also on the U.S. Nordic team, and went on to be a member of both U.S. Biathlon and Nordic teams during the Winter Olympics in 1964 in Innsbruck, Austria and the 1972 games in Sapporo, Japan.

Born in Finland, Peter came to the United States at age 13. He moved to Fort Collins in 1961 and owned the Alpine Haus, a ski and sports shop once located at 628 South College Avenue. Business was so brisk at the Alpine Haus that Lahdenpera was prevented from trying out in the 1968 Olympics held in Grenoble, France. Perhaps Fort Collins customers were hoping some of Peter’s Olympic charm would carry over to their ski purchases?

Peter went on to serve as team leader for the U.S. Biathlon squad for several years, including the 1976 Winter Olympics held once again in Innsbruck. You can view Peter’s official Olympics results here.

Alpine Haus at 628 South College Avenue

Peter Lahdenpera in 1976

From left to right: 1st Lt. Dexter Morse of Aspen (member of the Biathlon team), Olympic Ski Coach James Shea, and Peter Lahdenpera look through clippings from 1964 Olympic Games in this photo from 1972.

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