Most Famous Athlete From Every State – Montana’s is a Crazy Story
In my online travels today, I was sucked in by a headline and ended up getting lost in a pretty wild story. The article was "The Olympics: Most Famous Athlete From Every State." I thought Montana's contribution to the list might be something that had to do with marksmanship.....or maybe a gold medal that some Montanan had won.....perhaps a world record that had been set somewhere over the course of the games' history. Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong. If you've lived in Montana long enough you might be familiar with this story.
Kari Swenson was a biathlete from Bozeman. While out on a training run in 1984, she was abducted in the mountains near Big Sky. The article says "Her abductor was Don Nichols, a self-proclaimed "mountain man" who grabbed the then 22-year-old as a bride for his son." The story only gets crazier and more terrifying as Swenson was chained up, accidentally shot, and witnessed one of her rescuers be shot and killed while attempting to find her. Her captors eventually fled and were captured in the Southwestern mountains of Montana.
The story was turned into a made-for-TV movie titled "The Abduction of Kari Swenson" in 1987. The son, Dan Nichols, was released from prison in 1991 but ended up back behind bars after a 2011 arrest. Don Nichols was sentenced to 85 years in prison but was released in 2017, after serving 32 years. Kari Swenson is now a veterinarian in Bozeman.
You can read a more in-depth history of events HERE.
What a crazy story. I didn't even get around to reading about any of the athletes from other states - I'm guessing nothing can top Montana's entry on the list.