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Arriving from Norway as a child in 1928, it was not long before this early skiing pioneer was making a name for himself on the hills of his new home. Developing his talents in all skiing disciplines, his success as an athlete, and his contributions as a builder, spanned six decades and were felt from the local to the world level.

Coming from a family of skiers, the Hansen name dominated the headlines during the early days of organized skiing in the region. Knute added to its popularity by raising the bar as the person to beat. From 1933 to 1941, he consecutively held the Class A District jumping title.

Provincially, he became one of the first individuals to proudly wear the Fort William Ski Club colours to an outside meet, placing 3rd in the downhill and 4th in jumping at the 1937 Ontario Championships in North Bay. At the national level, his 4th place showing at the 1939 Canadian Championships, held in Fort William, was the best by a local jumper. Serving overseas from 1941-45, Knute picked up where he left off, claiming the 1946 district jumping title and dominating competitions against skiers from the region and the US.

Earning his professional status in 1947, he became one of the first instructors at the Fort William Ski Club. The following year he was crowned the national champion in the Open jumping competition at the 1948 Canadian Ski Championships in Banff. His 3rd place showing in the Closed event at the 1949 championships earned him an invitation to represent Canada at the 1950 FIS International Cross-Country and Ski Jumping Championships in Lake Placid. This marked the first such honour for a skier from northwestern Ontario, and the culmination of a competitive skiing career that spanned 4 decades.

With a dream of starting a skiing facility to welcome the world, and serve as the training ground for local and national skiers, Knute and his family worked tirelessly to develop Little Norway Ski Resort. Opened in the 1960s, it would become the eventual location for Big Thunder National Ski Training Centre. The development of Olympic caliber skiers, and the hill’s hosting of the best skiers in the world, was a fitting tribute to the tradition of excellence established years ago by this exceptional skiing pioneer.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 30, 2006

Knute Hansen

Fort William
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