Born in Sarpsborg, Norway in 1946, Rolf Petterson came to Canada with his family in 1953, eventually settling in Prince George in 1958. With his Scandinavian heritage, it was perhaps natural that he would be a proficient cross-country skier, but his achievements were anything but ordinary.
Ten years later, he would represent Canada in cross-country skiing at the 1968 Olympic Games in Grenoble, France. It was a proud moment, to be sure, but not the pinnacle of Rolf’s competitive career. In 1972, Rolf won the Canadian senior men’s title for the second time, but was unable to compete in the Olympic trials due to a shoulder separation. Following the Olympics, he competed in the CanAm North American Cross-Country series, placing second in the Premier 30-kilometre race and, in the process, defeating every Olympic medal winner but one.
This was perhaps Rolf’s finest hour in competitive racing. As one of Canada’s top all-time cross-country skiers, Rolf earned several North American titles to go along with a total of nine Canadian championship titles. He also served as a coach with the Hickory Wing Ski Club of Prince George, and a vice-chairman and coaching coordinator with the Canadian Ski Association.
Rolf passed away June 28,1981 at the age of 35, on the same day as another Canadian hero who died too young, Terry Fox.
Rolf Petterson Drive is named in his honour, and you can see the Rolf Petterson Memorial Trophy on display at the Prince George Public Library.