By MADELEINE SHERRIER/Montana State News

After a 20 year battle with deadly criminals on the streets of Chicago, Jim Hanrahan fights a new fight – cancer.

This Bozeman resident has just spent an exciting powder day at Bridger after having been diagnosed with stage one throat cancer just three days earlier. He is happy as can be and out of breath with excitement as he sits down for the interview.

Hanrahan was born on the south side of Chicago in the 1940’s. He hitchhiked across the country in 1963 order to dodge the draft of the Vietnam War. After months of traveling the country with nothing, Jim found himself in Steamboat, Colo.

“I will never forget the first time I saw people skiing, I mean I had seen it in pictures and things, but being an Irish kid from Chicago it was unlike anything else. They looked like they were flying.”

Hanrahan began working at the ski resort as a janitor at just about any place that needed cleaning. He worked every night for two months until he had enough money for a pair of skis and seasons pass. Hanrahan had fallen in love for the first time in his life and it was with skiing.

“I went skiing every single moment that I could. I was the first chair every day, and the last one to leave the hill. I would definitely call it an addiction. I became really good at it, too, which only made it sweeter.”

In 1967 Hanrahan returned to the city of Chicago due to the illness of his mother and enrolled into the police academy. He graduated the academy with honors and became a detective in the homicide and narcotics division of the Chicago Police Department. Jim’s career as a detective was full of risks.

“Well let’s see, I have been shot five different times, stabbed four times which was all at once, and I got run over with a jeep by some crazy crack head.”

Throughout his career and tough times, the memories of his ski bum days in Colorado are what kept him going and after 20 long and strenuous years on the police force Jim retired and moved out to Bozeman, Mont.

Hanrahan just celebrated his 71st birthday last month, and with his recent cancer diagnosis Jim is thinking differently about life. He will begin his first season as an Eaglemount ski instructor for individuals with disabilities.  He also begins his first round of radiation treatment next month.

“I’ve got faith that skiing will get me through it. It usually does.”

– Edited by Cassidy Geoghegan

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