Jim Shea came from a great winter sports family, as his father, Jack Shea, won two gold medals in speed skating at the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. But growing up around Lake Placid, Jim Shea first focused on ski jumping. He later turned to cross-country skiing, and attended the University of Denver on a ski scholarship, helping them win the 1961 NCAA team title in skiing. In 1962 Shea joined the US Army, and began competing in biathlon. He competed at the 1964 Winter Olympics in both cross-country and Nordic combined, and later became a ski coach, coaching at the University of Denver and as the US Junior Nordic coach in 1969. In 1973 he took over as the US Biathlon coach. Shea also worked in sports administration, serving as President of the Eastern Division of the US Ski Association. He later became President of the US Bobsled and Skeleton Association. Jim Shea’s son, Jim, Jr., won a gold medal in skeleton at the 2002 Winter Olympics.