Muffy Davis waves at the crowd while presenting a medal at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. (Photo: Joe Kusumoto)
It wasn’t even on her bucket list, but Muffy Davis certainly enjoyed her induction into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame on June 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“You can’t even put it into words,” said Davis, a seven-time Paralympic medalist in alpine skiing and handcycling. “It’s not something you even conceive will ever happen. It’s so immense and such an honor to be recognized at that level.
“It was above all expectations. It was absolutely amazing. I was starstruck, as well, with the power of the athletes that were inducted.”
As the 1995 Stanford University graduate pointed out, the induction ceremony came a day after the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in schools and other education programs.
“And more women were inducted than men,” Davis noted. “The whole evening was absolutely amazing, just fabulous. It was just like a fairy tale. It was an amazing experience.
“You dream of winning medals and things like that. You don’t dream of hall of fames. I never even contemplated that.”
It may not have been something Davis contemplated, but this isn’t the first hall of fame she’s been recognized by. She was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2010.
Her Paralympic success is far from her only athletic feats as well. Davis has also won paratriathlon and Para-cycling world championships. She became the first female paraplegic mountaineer to summit a peak of more than 14,000 feet in 2002, when she climbed Mount Shasta in California. Additionally, she has climbed Colorado’s Pikes Peak twice.
Davis, now 49, has stayed active in the movement in many capacities. She currently serves on the International Olympic Committee Governing Board and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee Board of Directors, among other similar roles.
Given her many accomplishments during and after her competitive career, which one is Davis most proud of?
“I’ve always been passionate about pushing for equity and inclusion,” said Davis, a junior U.S. ski team member before she suffered a spinal injury on a training run. “I’m just immensely thankful that I didn’t have to change the person I was born to be because of my accident and that we had a movement like the Paralympics.
“What I am really proud of is … the immense (number) of changes that have happened regarding equity and inclusion with the Paralympic sport. Now we have three past Paralympians on the (USOPC) Board. That happened in 12 years. That’s amazing.”
Davis is a Blaine County (Idaho) commissioner along with fellow U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Famer Dick Fosbury, the commission chair and a 1968 Olympic gold medalist in the high jump. Fosbury was inducted in 1992.
Davis, who also previously served as an Idaho state representative, credited her athletic background for her successes away from sports.
“Everything I learned on the field of play is so applicable in everyday life,” Davis said. “Sports has always been my passion, and that’s where I get excited.”
Davis had a health scare last fall when a bout with spinal meningitis had her in and out of the hospital.
“I’m finally feeling healthy,” Davis said. “Health and wellness and sports and fitness are just a vital part of all of our lives, and I’ve been missing that.”
Davis admitted that she had been working too hard and not exercising enough recently.
“The hall of fame induction kind of lit that fire under me,” Davis said. “Now I’m back on my bike.”
She tries to squeeze in several rides a week around a busy schedule that includes meetings that can stretch into the evening. She compensates with early-morning workouts.
“For me, that’s my meditation,” said Davis, adding that it “keeps me sane.”
As she approaches the half-century mark, Davis is trying to decide what’s next for her.
“I’m doing some inventory, and I’m taking some time right now to examine,” Davis said. “I’m not a spring chicken, but I’m not over the hill, either.”
One thing she knows for sure is that there are Paralympic and Olympic athletes who deserve to join her in the hall. She promised to do her part in helping them get there.
“It’s an immense honor to be inducted, but there are so many amazing — and I would say — even more deserving athletes out there,” Davis said. “But I’m just thankful that I got nominated.
“We have to step up and nominate and take an active role in pushing forward those names of those that we know are deserving, as well, because you can’t get inducted if you don’t get on the list.”