Educator and Club Pioneer Jim Mahaffey
“You represent the sport of skiing and this ski team, and your actions will be a reflection on the University and the community. You gain respect by your actions.”
Jim Mahaffey has certainly led by example. His high expectations for behavior, his moral standards, and his work ethic were foundations for a long successful career as a physical education professor, coach, mentor, and leader of the Alaska Nordic skiing community. His contribution to skiing goes well beyond his technical expertise, training methodology, and the successful coaching of Alaska’s first home grown Nordic Olympians Barbara Britch, Margie Mahoney, and Gene Morgan. He has fostered generations of students and skiers who have become model citizens with successful careers and active lifestyles. During his career, Jim traveled Alaska from Juneau to remote Arctic villages introducing Nordic skiing and racing. He coached multiple Alaska Division Junior National teams and the U.S. cross country team competing internationally, and all that have had the honor of being a student or athlete of his has benefitted from this earnest and caring educator.
Olympic Biathlete in 1960, Jim Mahaffey arrived in Anchorage in 1967 to create the Alaska Methodist University (AMU) Nordic and alpine ski program. Already he had established a stellar reputation, and in no time, he had not only built a successful collegiate program but also a 10 km trail system, Anchorage’s first lighted trail (1 km), and, with others, a 30-meter ski jump, all on the AMU campus. In September of 1969, Mahaffey created the Tuesday Night Races. Held on campus, these races gave his athletes and local runners and skiers needed additional competitions. Tuesday Night Races continue today as a popular family event. Mahaffey coached the ski team at AMU until the university closed in 1976.
Mahaffey’s lifelong involvement in Anchorage’s skiing community continues. In the 1980s and 1990s, Jim became a certified FIS Technical Delegate and officiated at race series locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. In addition, Jim competed in and garnered honors at the National Masters Championships in Nordic as well as local alpine ski races through 2003. Jim Mahaffey continues to support trail development, skier athletes, and the APU Outdoor Studies