RED WING, Minn. - The late John Bednarz, an Iron Mountain native who reached ski jumping podiums an astounding 64 percent, will be inducted next month to the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame.
Bednarz, born on Sept. 5, 1931, was the youngest of five brothers and five sisters. He passed away Jan. 19, 2009, at the age of 77.
Bednarz began skiing at age 6, and at age 15 jumped competitively for the Red Wing junior club in Iron Mountain-Kingsford for only one year before moving on to represent the senior Kiwanis Ski Club for 13 years (1948-1960), establishing a phenomenal record of accomplishments.
"John was probably best known as a stylish jumper, but the records show he regularly outdistanced the competition as well," an American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame representative reported.
Of 81 tournaments he entered between 1948 and 1960, Bednarz won 30, placed second in 15, and was third in seven, "all despite other life endeavors taking precedence to ski jumping."
Bednarz did not compete in the U.S. in 1953, as he was serving in the Army, stationed in Korea.
In 1954, while stationed stateside, he was able to compete in a limited number of events, representing the Army, though there was scant opportunity for training.
For the remainder of his competitive career, Bednarz was working to support his wife and three sons, again, leaving little time for training.
In 1949, Bednarz posted Class C marks at Fox River Grove, long standing jump; Duluth, hill record, and Iron Mountain, national Class C record.
During Olympic tryouts at Iron Mountain in 1951, Bednarz was named as an alternate. He came back at Ironwood to win Class A and outjump four Olympic team members.
Bednarz broke Westby's hill record in 1952. He entered 11 tournaments that year and placed first in seven.
At Iron Mountain in 1955, Bednarz tied for long-standing at the Olympic tryouts. But a fall and a short jump took him out of contention for the team.
"John was a modest, unassuming individual, quiet and soft-spoken, but with a quick smile and a great sense of humor," American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame representative noted. "His prowess on the ski hill was only second to his stature as an upright, hard-working, and humble family man.
"Fittingly, John's ashes were broadcast from the top of the Pine Mountain scaffold. Pause there for a moment to honor his legacy."