By Martin Cleary
In their youth, they were supreme athletes with the ability to catch and hold people’s attention.
Shaun Fripp could fly in more ways than one. As an alpine skier, he could zip around the poles with ease or launch himself off a ski jump and sail forever through the air at the Ottawa Ski Club.
Skiing was in his blood and he carried that love of his sport for the rest of his life as a coach, an official and a volunteer in a career that encompassed more than 70 years.
Murray Hayes was a multi-sport athlete and legend at McGill University as well as a two-time nominee for Canada’s amateur athlete-of-the-year award. Unlike Fripp, his time in the athletic spotlight was limited, but still highly productive.
Born in Montreal, Hayes was prominent in McGill sports circles in football, hockey, basketball and golf. But he also had connections to the Ottawa sports scene in the 1940s as the Rough Riders tried to sign the elusive running back and hockey fans once saw him skate against an early version of the 1948 Olympic team on the Auditorium ice.
Fripp and Hayes were cherished athletes from a far less complicated time in sports, when you needed to attend the events to see them perform and TSN wasn’t even a concept in someone’s dreams.
But it’s time once again to review and reflect on their respective long and short careers as newspapers recently announced their passing.
Born in Ottawa, Fripp died in his hometown on May 11 at age 86. Hayes, who served with the Royal Canadian Navy Reserves in the Second World War, passed away April 30 at the Perley Health centre in Ottawa’s east end at 98.
Fripp was one of the country’s top all-around skiers, but had no luck when it came to the world’s major events.
He was selected to the Canadian team for the world alpine ski championships in 1958 in Bad Gastein and Salzburg, Austria. But during a training run, he fell, crashed into a tree and was scratched from the competition because of a leg injury.
Two years later, he attended the Canadian trials for the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California, but he finished eighth in the standings and team officials only took the top seven men.
Fripp, however, had multiple positive achievements in his career to fill his heart, especially at St. Moritz. During the 1958 international season, he was ninth in the Grieder’s Silk race, 20th in the Roberts of Kandahar race and 22nd in the National Ski Union Challenge Cup.
That season, Fripp, who was a national team skier from 1957-62, also competed in the Alberg Kandahar in St. Anton and the 19th Kitzbuhel Hahnenkhan.
In the first-ever Commonwealth Winter Games in St. Moritz, he stood on the medal podium as the silver medallist in the men’s downhill.
Domestically, Fripp won numerous national medals between 1956-65, including the Canadian senior men’s slalom title in 1956.
As a junior, he was a three-time Quebec division alpine champion from 1950-52, a two-time Canadian team winner in 1950 and 1951, and the 1952 Canadian ski jumping gold medallist.
About 30 years later, he was instrumental in organizing the Ottawa Masters Ski Racing Association. He competed in Canadian Masters Ski Association races from the 1980s through the 2000s, winning slalom and giant slalom titles in the 1990s.
His overall love of skiing was noticeable in other areas as he coached the Gatineau Ski Zone/Ottawa Ski Club team from 1963 to 1970. The list of his successful skiers included, Susan Graves, Bill Honeywell and Rick Hunter, who graduated to the national team, and Rhonda Cole, Michael Gagne and son Judson Fripp, who made the Quebec ski team.
As an official, he was on the board of directors of the Canadian Ski Museum and the Gatineau Ski Zone, was president of the Ottawa Master Ski Racing Association, and held a variety of volunteer positions, including chief of race, for Pontiac Cup, Sealtest Cup and FIS races at local ski hills. He also was a Level 2 certified FIS delegate.
Fripp had exceptional marketing and sales skills in his professional career and used them to organize the Ski with the Legends fundraiser for the Canadian Ski Museum/Canadian Ski Hall of Fame.
“I did a little bit of everything and it was enough,” Fripp said, when he was inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame in 2009. “I just enjoyed skiing and got to put a little bit back.”
A five-foot, eight-inch and 165-pound football halfback, Hayes was described by sportswriters as shifty and greasy hipped. His talent couldn’t be ignored, but he turned down professional contracts with the Rough Riders, the Montreal Alouettes, the Sarnia Imperials and the New York Giants.
He was a four-time league all-star for McGill and the team’s most valuable player in 1948. He returned to the team as an assistant coach and completed his bachelor of commerce degree in 1949.
Hayes was honoured as a member of the 1946 Eastern Canadian football all-star team, which was usually reserved for professional players. During an early October game that year, he ran for two touchdowns in an 18-12 win over Queen’s University, including a 100-yard kick-off return.
There also was a report Hayes had been scouted by the NHL’s New York Rangers.
When the Canadian men’s hockey team was being assembled for the 1948 Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Hayes had a remarkable game with two assists as McGill shut out the national team 7-0 at the Ottawa Auditorium on Dec. 13, 1947.
As a golfer, Hayes won the intercollegiate championship and numerous other tournaments over three years. His time at McGill also included a stint with the intermediate basketball team.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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