JIMMY SHEA -NATIONAL CHAMPION - WORLD CHAMPION
As the world watched, a new American hero emerged during the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics. Racing down the ice track at over 80 miles per hour, Jim Shea, Jr. slid into the record books as he captured the first Gold Medal ever won by an American in the Olympic sport of Men’s Skeleton. He captured the hearts of the viewers however, as he pulled out the funeral card of his Grandfather, Olympic Gold Medalist, Jack Shea, and held the picture up in tribute to the man who had died just 17 days before.
Although winning the gold at the Winter Olympics was the highlight of his athletic career, breaking records and setting the bar was nothing new to Jim. Breaking over 15 world records in Skeleton, Jim has the distinction of being the first American to win a World Cup, the first and only American to win a World Championship and the first American to win the Goodwill Games. Jim’s dedication to his sport and his outstanding sportsmanship was acknowledged as he was voted by the US Olympic Athletes to read the Olympic Oath at the opening ceremonies and carry the torch in Salt Lake.
It was not only his award winning race that earned the admiration of the public, but Jim’s determination and hard work to overcome the number of obstacles that he faced in his personal and competitive life.
As a youth growing up in Lake Placid, NY, Jim’s involvement in sports helped him overcome the doubt he experienced due to his battle with Dyslexia. Having a severe learning disorder taught Jim the importance of perseverance and hard work. A lesson emphasized by his father and grandfather, both Winter Olympic Athletes.
Jim’s athletic career began as a driver for 2-man and 4-man bobsleds. In 1995 he moved on to the extreme sport of Skeleton and was recognized as the rookie of the year. After winning the World Championship in Altenberg, Germany, Jim returned home and presented the trophy to Mitt Romney, the President of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Shea taught him about the dangerous sport of Skeleton and convinced Romeny to reintroduce Skeleton as an Olympic sport, an event that had not taken place since the 1948 Winter Olympics.