CRMS Exposes Muffy Ritz ’75 to Lifelong Joy of Skiing & Coaching

by Tim O'Keefe

Hometown: Raised in Wayzata, Minnesota
Residing In: Ketchum, Idaho
Education: B.S. in Exercise Physiology at University of Colorado, 1980
Occupation: Nordic Ski Coach and program director; Founder of The Vamps, the largest, longest-running Nordic ski program in the U.S. for women (1996-present) with 125 skiers

What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
I love to encourage people to do things they never thought were possible. Many of the people I coach are older women and have never had an opportunity to be involved in an athletic group sport until they found The Vamps. They are thrilled when I call them “athletes.” They love being part of a healthy, social, committed, motivated, creative group of people. I love seeing them not only become better skiers but also become entrenched in a fun group of people, where their confidence soars!

How did CRMS play a role in your professional, personal, or community life?
CRMS taught me how to be a strong-willed person, especially in the outdoors and in athletics. Wilderness session showed me that I could do more than I ever thought I could and that I could endure some hard, uncomfortable times such as sleeping under a flimsy tarp in a downpour, hiking for 14 miles after three days of no food, waking up to over six inches of snow at 10,000 feet, having to eat sardines because that’s all that was left. I was exposed to all types of skiing at CRMS – alpine ski team with Roger Paris, XC skiing and mountaineering with Dutton Foster, Rich Furze, Larry Paleo, and Steve Bunnell, ski jumping with some crazy faculty members, and more! These experiences showed me that I could do just about anything on two skis.

Later at CU, I joined the Nordic team, then skied for Team Rossignol since 1980, skied on the US Ski Team, coached the CRMS team, The GMVS team, the Sun Valley Ski Team, and The Vamps. Had I not been exposed at CRMS, my life would have been on a different path, which I’m sure wouldn’t have been as fulfilling! I am currently on, or have been on, about every local board that deals with XC skiing and I am glad to be able to give back to a sport and lifestyle that made e who I am!

What’s been a highlight since graduating?
Challenging myself physically has always been a big part of who I am. The Race Across America (RAAM)  is by far one of the hardest physical and mental challenges a person can face. This 3,000-mile road bike race takes absolutely everything you have inside to finish. You want to quit every day, you want to cry seeing every uphill, you want someone else to ride the bike! My highlight is finishing three RAAMs and setting the 2nd fastest time and mph average ever recorded by a woman (9 days, 6 hours, and 32 minutes). Another highlight was climbing the Matterhorn, a dream I’d had since I was 9 years old!

What are you currently working on?
I am currently the President of our HOA – Hulen Meadows in Ketchum, Idaho. I have never been in a position like this before. It’s easy coaching and organizing 125 women, but dealing with a nine-member board of directors has challenged me and has made me a better person. However, I would NOT advise being an HOA president! I’m also still coaching the Vamps and some 11 to 13-year-old Sun Valley Ski team kids. Between the coaching, the HOA, all the boards, training for World Masters races in Finland, my friends, and my dog, my backpack is full!

What advice would you give current CRMS students? 
Your time at CRMS will have impacts on you that you won’t recognize until possibly many years down the road. Live your lives fully at CRMS and engage yourself in as many new experiences as you can. What seems trivial now, may be pivotal in your life later on. CRMS will be in your blood forever- make it count!

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