Disabled Ski Champ Jill Kinmont Boothe Dies in Carson City

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jill Kinmont Boothe, the skiing champion who
became a painter and a teacher after she was paralyzed during a
race and was the subject of a book and two Hollywood films, has
died. She was 75.

Kinmont Boothe died Thursday at a hospital in Carson City, Nev., Ruth Rhines of the local coroner's office told the Los Angeles
Times.

At age 18, the L.A. native was the national women's slalom champion and on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She was trying to make the U.S. Olympic team in 1955 when she crashed and broke her neck. She was paralyzed below her shoulders and would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

"At the time that she had her accident, she was probably the premier up-and-comer women's U.S. skier," Alan Engen, a former U.S. ski competitor and ski historian, told the Times.

The crash before several thousand spectators was reported around
the nation. When she returned to Southern California on a stretcher
after two months in a Salt Lake City hospital, crowds of reporters and cameramen greeted her at the train station.

Her skiing career over, she learned to write, type and paint using her neck and shoulder muscles with the aid of a hand brace.

After graduating from UCLA with a degree in German and English,
she applied to the university's school of education and was rejected because of her disability, she later said. Determined to further her education, she moved north with her parents, earned a teaching certificate at the University of Washington and taught remedial reading off and on for the rest of her life.

"To get mad, to scream and holler, to tell the world - that doesn't get you anywhere," she told the Times in 1968, when the newspaper named her a Woman of the Year. "You sort of look for what's good that's left, I guess."

In the 1970s, Kinmont Boothe and her mother moved to Bishop, the
California mountain town where she spent her early years and
learned to love skiing. It's where she met her future husband, John
Boothe.

"I think the thing that impressed me most the first time I met her was that after a few minutes you forgot all about her being in a wheelchair," Boothe told the Times last year. "She obviously isn't preoccupied by it and pretty soon you're not either."

In Bishop, Kinmont Boothe was an avid painter and continued to teach. A school in town is named after her.

Her life was the subject of a 1966 book, "A Long Way Up: The Story of Jill Kinmont," by E.G. Valens, and two films, "The Other Side of the Mountain" in 1975 and a 1978 sequel.

She is survived by her husband.


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