Muffy Davis wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’ve been in the chair a lot longer than I haven’t been,” she said. “Honestly, I have no regrets. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve had an amazing life. I call it the blessing of adversity. I was an aspiring Olympian, but I’m a Paralympic gold medalist.
“Who knows if I could have made it to the Olympics or what I would have done. I’ve had as full or fuller a life than I ever imagined. I’m only almost 50 and he there is still more to come.
Davis was inducted into the United States Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado on June 24, 2022.
“It always blows my mind when I think of certain parts and how amazing it was,” she said of that night. “It’s very rare that I’m speechless, but I can’t say how amazing it was. Surreal is a big word. It was amazing to listen to everyone that night.
Davis was joined by Natalie Coughlin (swimming), Mia Hamm (soccer), David Kiley (para-alpine skiing, para-athletics athletics and wheelchair basketball), Michelle Kwan (figure skating), Michael Phelps (swimming), Lindsey Vonn (alpine skiing), Trischa Zorn-Hudson (para-swimming), women’s 4×100 freestyle relay swimming team 1976, Paralympic sledge hockey team 2002, Gretchen Fraser (caption: alpine skiing), Roger Kingdom (caption : athletics), Pat Summitt (coach: basketball) and Billie Jean King (special contributor).
“The most special part of the evening was having my 13-year-old daughter (Elle) with me, and she got to hear and meet some legends,” the Wood River High School and Stanford graduate said. “We sat down to dinner with Mia Hamm and her 15-year-old twin daughters. For my daughter to hear these legends and how they did it and what they’re grateful for – and also my mother – is exceptional. Not only her, but every girl can see what is possible. I really wanted her to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I wanted to personally thank her and wanted her to hear from all these amazing other athletes.
“The good thing is that every person up there talked about their support system and how they couldn’t have done what they did without that support system – family, coaches, sponsors, the United States and Paralympic organizations.”
On February 18, 1989, the course of Davis’ life changed when a skiing accident during practice left her paralyzed from the chest down.
“Athletes set goals to win events, to win medals and titles, to be world champions,” she said. “I never considered being in a hall of fame. It never occurred to me that was a possibility.
Davis was inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2010.
“I knew it existed, but I had never thought of it. I never thought about it,” she said. “Just to be nominated is a huge honor because there are so many amazing, deserving athletes out there.”
Davis is a seven-time Paralympic medalist. She won three gold medals at the 2012 London Games in para-cycling, three silver medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and a bronze medal at the 1998 Nagano Games in para-alpine skiing. She is a two-term member of the IPC Board of Directors and currently serves on the USOPC Board of Directors and the USOPC Paralympic Advisory Board.
“In 2019 I was nominated and not chosen, so being nominated again blew me away,” Davis said. “I was incredibly grateful to be on the list and tried not to get too excited, so I wasn’t disappointed if I didn’t make it.”
National governing bodies, alumni, current athletes and other members of the Olympic and Paralympic community have been invited to nominate eligible athletes. From there, a nominating committee made up of people from the Olympic and Paralympic movements narrowed it down to a set of finalists.
The Class of 2022 was determined through a voting process that includes Olympians and Paralympians, members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Family, and online voting open to fans. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame was one of the first national sports halls of fame to include fan voting in its selection process, and this year more than 432,000 votes were cast across all platforms. .
“Sarah Hirshland (CEO of the United States Olympic Committee) called me, and it wasn’t uncommon to get a call from her because of my position on the board,” Davis said. “Then she said, ‘This is my greatest privilege…’ and I knew what was going to happen. I was traveling out east and I hung up on the phone with my friend and my daughter there and I don’t remember what I said.
A longtime disability rights advocate and champion of the Paralympic movement, the Davis indoor competitor came out strong when she chose para-cycling.
“I met other athletes who were cycling and they told me to go to this camp,” she said. “I didn’t know anything at all, but I knew how to attack hard. I was a competitor. I went to camp and learned a few skills and more about cycling. I felt like a skier arriving in blue jeans. I learned a ton there.
Davis won the US National Championships in 2010 and made the World Championship team. She won three silver medals.
“I called my husband (Jeff Burley) from Bend and said, ‘Oh my God, are we going to do this? ‘” Davis said. “It gave me confidence. I thought if I had a good coach and trained hard, I could figure this stuff out.
Jeff and Elle made the trip to London and watched her win three gold medals.
“She was there on my husband’s shoulders to watch and it was the most powerful of all my Paralympic moments,” Davis said.
Davis said the induction night will be etched in his memory.
“To be around this incredible group of strong women…Lindsey Vonn, Mia Hamm, Michelle Kwan and Michael Phelps on top of all that was a power class,” she said. “All of these athletes are phenomenal and very deserving.”
It also includes Fraser, the first American to win an Olympic medal in skiing, in a clear slalom race at San Moritz in 1948.
“Being inducted with Gretchen Fraser, who was my mentor, couldn’t have been better,” Davis said. “I knew Gretchen and (her husband) Don. They were so wonderful to me. I was able to meet their grandchildren. His spirit lives in so many ways. I am so grateful.
Fraser won gold and silver in the early days of modern alpine skiing events at the 1948 Winter Olympics. His grandson Jeff Fraser spoke at the induction.
“Thank you very much to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee for granting us the privilege of representing our grandmother for such a great honor,” he said that evening. “The sport of skiing and the stage the Olympics provided meant so much to his life. It really gave him the opportunity to touch so many people, both in and out of sport. She was an incredibly humble ambassador. The other day, a client contacted me from a small restaurant in Ketchum with a picture of Gretchen and her two labs.
“A few weeks earlier, Heather (her granddaughter) had asked a client to send her a photo of them sitting next to a photo of Gretchen from the 1936 World Championships from the wall of a restaurant in Montana . I love that his legacy lives on. To us, she was just Grandma Fraser. But even early in our lives, the respect and admiration she received wherever she went was very evident. So it’s really great to have another chance to honor him now.
There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 1 at the Meadow for Davis Festival, where a small version of his Hall of Fame sculpture will be on display.
“I want to share it with the community,” she said, “because I couldn’t have done it without the community.” ￼