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Buddy Werner, Skiing

  • Two-time first team All-American
  • 1961 NCAA Slalom & Alpine Combined champion
  • 1963 NCAA Alpine Combined and Downhill champion
  • Three-time Olympian (1956, '60 & '64)
  • National Ski Hall of Fame

Wallace "Buddy" Werner, born and raised in Steamboat Springs, is generally referred to as America's first international skiing star, excelling in all three alpine disciplines of his day (downhill, giant slalom, slalom) ... He first attended CU in the mid-1950s and joined the ski team in 1959, but would have an extended collegiate career after making the 1956 and 1960 Olympic teams as a collegian (and the 1964 squad after graduation) ... Many feel his best chance to medal was in the '60 Olympics at Squaw Valley, but he suffered a broken leg while training in Aspen two months before the games ... He was the 1961 NCAA slalom and alpine combined champion, and captured the 1963 national titles again in the alpine combined as well as the downhill ... He was second in the downhill in '61 and was the runner-up in the slalom in '63 ... He earned first-team All-America honors in both 1961 and 1963 ... Among his many worldwide accomplishments was becoming the first non-European to win the Hahnenkamm Downhill (Kitzbuhel, Austria), claiming the crown in 1959 as a 22-year old (only one American has won it since) ... He also finished in fourth in the slalom and fifth in the GS at the 1958 World Championships (he was also fifth in the Worlds in the GS in '62) ...In his last Olympic games, he was eighth in the slalom behind CU and USA teammates Billy Kidd (silver medalist) and Jimmie Heuga (bronze) ... He retired from competition at the age of 28 after the conclusion of the 1964 racing season (at the U.S. Alpine Championships) ... Beginning a new career in ski films, he traveled to Europe in early spring to film the movie, Ski-Fascination; Werner and Barbi Henneberger, a 23-year old Olympic medalist from Germany, were skiing on the Trais Fleur run near St. Moritz, Switzerland, when they were caught in an avalanche. Werner actually skied out of the initial avalanche but was trapped in a second, more powerful one; their bodies were found in the early evening, both suffocating to death on April 12, 1964 ... He was posthumously inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame later that same year, and was honored in February 1965 by the then-brand new Steamboat Springs Ski Resort when it renamed Storm Mountain in his honor (Mount Werner), with "Buddy's Run" at the top of the peak featuring a statue ... He was a member of the third class to be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1967, and 10 years later, was inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame ... Has had a memorial scholarship in his name since 1973 which benefits a deserving ski team member. 

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