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Wallace (Buddy) Werner

Hall of Fame Class of 1964

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Wallace “Buddy” Werner was a fine four-event skier who concentrated on alpine racing on entering the senior ranks. The Great Rocky Mountain skier was a three-time Olympian and winner of seven U.S. titles in the pre-World Cup era.

Wallace “Buddy” Werner grew up in a skiing family in which the three children of Hazie and Ed Werner (Buddy, Gladys and Loris) reached the top. Hazie began skiing at age 62 and operated the concession at Steamboat Springs’ Howelsen Hill. Her husband, Ed, was a good skier who spent many hours on the slopes with the children. After his death times were hard and the children had to earn their own money. Their influence set the Werner children on the right track.

Buddy Werner was a three time Olympian. He first represented the United States at the 1956 Olympics at Cortina, Italy. Named to the US Olympic Ski Team in 1960, he did not compete because of injury. He competed at the 1964 Olympic Games at Innsbruck, Austria. He represented the United States at the F.I.S. World Championships in 1962 and was “Ski Athlete of the Year” in 1959.

Werner never won an Olympic or F.I.S. medal, partly due to bad luck. He was injured during the 1960 Olympic Games at Squaw Valley where he was favored to win. Despite his disappointment at not coming home with a medal, his attitude did not change. Among other things, his teammates claimed he was the glue that held the U.S. teams together. He was always willing to help a teammate perfect a technique, coach someone who was having trouble or listen when someone needed to talk. He was the one person on the team revered by athletes and coaches alike. Everyone loved Buddy!

That is why, shortly after Buddy announced his retirement (following the Innsbruck Olympics), the ski world was shocked to hear that he and a skiing companion, Barbi Henneberger, had been trapped in an avalanche near St. Moritz, Switzerland. Despite immediate rescue efforts, both Werner and Henneberger were found dead. The world lost a great skier on April 12, 1964.

Buddy Werner was posthumously elected to the U.S. National ski Hall of Fame in 1964.

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