Once an individual has acquired the title of “Olympian,” it is his or hers forever. The University of Utah has had in its ranks such athletes who have earned that title through talent and skill, hard work, commitment, and dedication. A select few of these alumni are featured in this issue’s “Through the Years” section.

Richard D. Movitz Suzanne Harris Rytting Marvin A. Melville William Allen Spencer
Peter Karns Curtis R. Canning Luke Bodensteiner Alan Engen

: Life Member AM: Annual Member

Richard D. Movitz BS’49 was involved for a number of years in Olympic and world skiing events. After completing two years in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, he returned to the U where he was a member of the NCAA national champion ski team in 1947. Movitz competed with the 1948 U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team in St. Moritz, Switzerland, racing in downhill and slalom events. Two years later he was a member of the U.S. team competing in the world ski championships in Aspen, Colorado, in the slalom and giant slalom races.

Movitz’s ski racing career ended after that, but in the late 1950s he became a part of the U.S. Ski Association and was chair of the International Competition Committee in 1958. Then in 1960 he served as a member of the Olympic Ski Committee in Squaw Valley, California. His son and two daughters continue the skiing tradition.

With his skiing career behind him, Movitz joined his father’s importing business, from which he retired in 1996. He still keeps in close contact with the U as a fan and a generous donor. He will be enjoying the 2002 Games from his home in Holladay, Utah. AM

Suzanne Harris Rytting ex’51 (better known as Suzy) began skiing at the age of 13 and started racing with the Salt Lake City East High team at the age of 15. As a member of the U ski team, Rytting won the national downhill and combined titles in 1948 and the national giant slalom championship in 1951. In all, between 1947 and 1952 she was a seven-time national championship medalist.

Her first Olympic experience was as second alternate with the 1948 team in St. Moritz, Switzerland. She was named to the 1952 team for the Oslo Games after placing fifth in the downhill, second in slalom, and fourth in combined in the Olympic tryouts at Sun Valley, Idaho. Before she could compete, Olympic officials discharged her from the team when it was revealed that the flu-like symptoms she was experiencing were, in fact, the first signs of morning sickness in her two-week-old pregnancy. Despite doctors’ assurances that she could compete, the officials would not allow it.

Rytting has been elected to the U.S. Ski Association National Ski Hall of Fame, the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, the Crimson Club Hall of Fame, the Salt Lake Tribune’s top 50 athletes of the century, and the U’s Marriott Library Ski Archives Legends of Skiing. A dedicated volunteer in her community, she has worked on a suicide prevention hot line, and with the Children’s Center, the National Charity League, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Salt Lake City, and the U Crimson Club. She was named a community hero honorary torchbearer for the 1996 Olympic torch relay. Rytting and her husband, William ex’46, have two daughters and four grandchildren, most of whom are skiers.

Marvin A. Melville BS’59 is an icon in the skiing world. In honor of his many accomplishments, he was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and into the University of Utah Crimson Club Hall of Fame in 1992. Melville’s skiing career began when he competed for Granite High School in Salt Lake City from 1950 to 1953. Later, as a member of the U ski team, he was voted All-American in recognition of his many achievements in the sport—NCAA wins in both downhill and slalom in 1959; member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic ski team in the downhill races in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; and a top 20 finisher with the 1958 National Federation of Skiing team in Badgastein, Austria. Melville’s Olympic experience continued in 1960 in Squaw Valley, California, where he again raced for the United States in downhill competition.

In 1961 Melville turned his attention to teaching. Along with two other ski enthusiasts, he organized the Alpine Training School for junior ski racers in Salt Lake City. In sessions at various junior and senior high schools, the young students would practice on dry land, skiing year-around. From 1963-66, Melville coached the U ski team, which finished second in the NCAA using only half the number of skiers of the other teams. During his years as U coach, at least four members of his team became Olympic skiers. He coached the women’s ski team in the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria; was a member of the NCAA Skiing Rules Committee and chair of the U.S. Ski Association Alpine Competitions Committee; and in 1992-93, served as chair of the U.S. Ski Association National Alpine Masters Committee.

With homes in Salt Lake City and in Sun Valley, Idaho, Melville is still teaching skiing—to his five children and 27 grandchildren. AM

William Allen Spencer BS’61 was awarded the Pioneer of Progress Award for Sportsmanship and Athletics in 2001, honoring his accomplishments and service in marksmanship and cross-country skiing over the past four decades. In his youth, Spencer became an expert skier, and he learned marksmanship skills through his high school junior ROTC program. His talent was further enhanced when he competed in cross-country skiing at the U, and he honed his shooting abilities through service in the National Guard. Combining these skills, he earned a place on the U.S. Olympic Biathlon team in 1964 and 1968, and was U.S. National Champion in 1965, 1966, and 1967. Spencer also competed while in the military.

After the Olympics, he turned to coaching and officiating. He was the shooting coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 1976, 1980, and 1992, and served as a referee through IBU International at the Nagano Olympics.

Spencer is now assistant chief of competition for biathlon at Soldier Hollow in Wasatch State Park, Heber City, Utah, and will help conduct the biathlon programs in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He is also a member of the J. Willard Marriott Library Ski Archives Advisory Board. He is married to Judith Spencer BS’72. LM

Peter Karns BS’67 holds two records for best finishes by an American in biathlon set during the 1972 Olympic Winter Games in Sapporo. He placed 14th in the 20-kilometer biathlon and was on the U.S. relay team that placed sixth in the biathlon relay. These records still stand today, but he hopes they will be broken in February 2002. Karns competed with the University team from 1964-1967, during which time all team members were skimeisters (competed in all four events). In the NCAA championships, he placed third in 1965 and second in 1966. His favorite event was cross country, in which he placed fourth in the NCAA in 1966. That year he was also named NCAA All-American.
Prior to his Olympic experience, he was a two-time national champion in the U.S. biathlon competition. Karns was a coach for the U.S. biathlon team from 1973-1976 and also coached the team for the 1976 Games in Innsbruck, Austria. He will be a race official for the biathlon events at the 2002 Games.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is home to Karns and his wife, Jeanine, and his Real Estate of Jackson Hole brokerage. Their three children are all skiers.

When Curtis R. Canning MS’73 MD’73 was looking for a sport to join at the beginning of his freshman year at Harvard University, he turned to rowing instead of football (in which he had lettered at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City). While it seems a strange choice for someone who hails from Utah, a land-locked state with an average annual rainfall of 14 inches, Canning felt that crew would leave more time for a steady job and his studies. Not necessarily so. “Little did I know then what I was getting myself into,” he comments. “Every spare moment was devoted to training.”

Ultimately, Canning became Harvard’s 95th heavyweight crew captain his senior year, and he managed to hold down his job and graduate magna cum laude, as well. His team participated in the Pan Am Games, the North American Championships in St. Catherines (Ontario), the European Championships in Vichy, France, and the Olympic Games in Mexico City (see And Finally).

In 1993, Canning and the entire crew were inducted into The Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame at the Harvard Club of Boston.

A psychiatrist practicing in Logan, Utah, Canning is currently president of the Utah Psychiatric Association. He is married to Rebecca Petersen Canning MEd’73.

While rowing may seem a million miles away, there are reminders of competitions past—an oar from the Pan Am Games tacked on a wall in his home, and occasional reunions of the Harvard ’68 crew of eight. AM


Luke Bodensteiner BA’94 is another repeat Olympian, having competed in the 1992 and 1994 games. A cross-country skier, he raced in three different distances in 1992 and in four different distances in 1994. As a member of the U ski team from 1989-1993, he won the NCAA championship twice as an individual and once with his team, then took a leave from school in 1992 and 1994 when he raced overseas in the World Cup. Bodensteiner is involved with the 2002 Olympic Winter Games as a member of the SLOC Board of Trustees. He is also president of the Soldier Hollow Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization that will operate that venue after the Olympics. He works as nordic director for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and U.S. Ski Team and is a delegate to the International Ski Federation, where he remains actively involved with U.S. Olympic athletes in cross country, nordic combined, and ski jumping. Bodensteiner’s book, Endless Winter: An Olympian’s Journal (see Bookshelf), tracks his year leading up to the 1994 Games.

Along with his many ski awards and activities, particularly as a member of the U ski team from 1959-1962, Alan Engen BS’63 BFA’63 is chair of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation (see Bookshelf). He recently turned over the ceremonial key to the museum, part of the newly completed Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center in the Utah Olympic Park, to SLOC chair Mitt Romney. The entire sports center and the adjoining day lodge will be used to accommodate more than 400 media personnel who will be covering the Olympic events staged in the park. Following the Winter Games, the museum will house memorabilia of Alf Engen, along with other historical ski items. Engen and David Amidon, executive director of the museum, report that the museum will have multiple uses, including an educational program headed by Ted Wilson BS’64 (AM) and Barbara Engen BS’63.