Buddy Werner

Buddy Werner bigraphy, stories - American alpine skier

Buddy Werner : biography

February 26, 1936 – April 12, 1964

Wallace Jerold "Buddy" Werner (February 26, 1936 – April 12, 1964) was an American alpine ski racer in the 1950s and early 1960s.


Buddy Werner was selected for the U.S. Olympic Team three times: 1956, 1960, & 1964. His best chance to medal was in 1960 at Squaw Valley, but he broke his right leg while slalom training in Aspen in December 1959, two months before the games.

A year earlier, he was the first non-European to win the famed Hahnenkamm downhill race in Kitzbühel, Austria, in 1959, at age 22. (The only American to win since was Daron Rahlves in 2003, on a fog-shortened course. Three Canadians, Ken Read, Steve Podborski, and Todd Brooker, have won the race.)

Werner finished in fourth in the slalom at the 1958 World Championships and took fifth in the giant slalom; he also finished fifth in the giant slalom at the 1962 World Championships. He placed eighth in the slalom at the 1964 Olympics, behind teammates (and medalists) Billy Kidd and Jimmie Heuga. Although Werner never won an Olympic or World Championship medal, he is considered the first world-class ski racer from the U.S.; he excelled in all three alpine disciplines.

Early years

Born and raised in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Werner and his siblings were accomplished skiers, and competed in both alpine and Nordic events on Howelsen Hill. Werner raced for the University of Colorado in the mid-1950s, making the 1956 Olympic team in his sophomore year, joining his elder sister, Skeeter Werner.


Werner was posthumously inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame later that year. – list of inducted members – Buddy Werner – inducted in 1964 Storm Mountain, the primary mountain of the new Steamboat Ski Resort in his hometown, was renamed Mount Werner in his honor in February 1965. "Buddy’s Run", which starts at the top of Storm Peak on Mount Werner, features a statue honoring Werner near the beginning of the run. He was inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1977. – Buddy Werner – inducted in 1977


Following the Olympics, the 1964 racing season concluded March 22nd at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Winter Park, Colorado, and Werner retired from competition at age 28 and started a new career. Three weeks later he was in Switzerland to film the ski movie Ski-Fascination for Willy Bogner. Werner and German racer (and Olympic medalist) Barbi Henneberger, age 23, – Barbara Henneberger were caught in an avalanche on the Trais Fleur slope, near St. Moritz. Werner skied out of the first avalanche, but was caught up in another avalanche; their bodies were found hours later, deaths attributed to suffocation.