Birger Ruud is regarded by many ski historians as among the best ski jumpers of all time. Together with his elder brother Sigmund Ruud and younger brother Asbjørn Ruud he dominated international ski jumping for almost two decades. In addition to his Olympic victories in 1932 and 1936 and his silver medal in 1948, he was World Champion three times, in 1931, 1935 and 1937, and silver medalist in 1939. Surprisingly enough, he was national champion only once (1939) and had only one victory at Holmenkollen (1934). Birger Ruud set two world distance records in ski jumping, in 1931 and 1934, jumping 92 metres at Planica, Yugoslavia in 1934. He was also a top alpine skier. In addition to his victory in the downhill combined at the 1936 Winter Olympics, he won the bronze medal in Alpine Combined at the 1935 World Championships.
During World War II, Ruud was imprisoned by German forces in 1943 for publicly announcing his anti-Nazi sentiments. After his release in 1944 he joined the Norwegian resistance movement. He ran a ski factory in his hometown Kongsberg, and together with his friend and Olympic ski jumping champion from 1948, Petter Hugsted, took the initiative to create the Kongsberg Ski Museum. In 1987, a sculpture of him was set up in Kongsberg. He was supposed to light the Olympic flame at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, but had to withdraw due to heart problems. He died in his hometown in 1998, aged 86.