Jimmie Heuga, American skiing superstar and founder of the Jimmie Heuga Center at Vail, died Monday at age 66.

Heuga won bronze and Billy Kidd won silver at the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, the first American men to win Olympic medals in alpine skiing.

Heuga was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but refused to quit his active lifestyle. He continued to ski and ride his bicycle for years, and set an example for others to follow.

In 1984, Heuga founded the Jimmie Heuga Center at Vail, which encouraged people with multiple sclerosis to stay upbeat, and live full lives.

Billy Kidd told the Vail Daily, "Obviously, the world knew him for his accomplishments as a ski racer, but I admire him even more because of how he led his life, especially with the challenges of MS.

"He's probably the toughest guy, both on and off skis, both mentally and physically, that I've ever known," Bob Beattie told the newspaper. Beattie was Heuga's coach at the University of Colorado and on the U.S. Ski Team.

Apart from his extraordinary toughness, Heuga is remembered for being able to inspire others to overcome misfortune, to reach beyond limitations, to not let challenges become barriers.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Jimmie Heuga Endowment Fund, 27 Main Street East, Suite 303, Edwards, CO 81632.