Paul Wegeman returns to Steamboat for final Brown Bag Lecture Series event of summer
August 29, 2013
Steamboat Springs — As the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team continues training for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February, a former Olympic Nordic combined skier from six decades ago, Paul Wegeman, will speak Friday in Steamboat Springs about the early days of lift-served skiing in Colorado, his time at Howelsen Hill and his four-way skiing years at Western State College in Gunnison and Denver University.
Wegeman speaks at noon at the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs in the final Brown Bag Lecture Series event of the summer hosted by the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
The names of Bill Demong, Johnny Spillane, Todd Lodwick and Brett Camerota — who medaled in Nordic combined at the 2010 Vancouver winter games — are familiar to every youngster in the Little Viking program at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
But Wegeman was competing internationally when those skiers' parents were youngsters.
Wegeman was born in 1927 in Denver and put on his first pair of skis at Genesee when he was 3 years old, according to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, of which Wegeman is a member.
In Wegeman's era, four-way skiers were common place. They competed in slalom, downhill, cross-country and jumping at the collegiate level. He took his first ski jump at Homewood Park at the age of 14 in 1942, and Wegeman's family moved to Steamboat Springs in 1944.
Wegeman was the Intercollegiate four-way champion for Western State in 1946-47, and after a hiatus from college, he did the same for Denver University on two occasions. At the 1950 FIS World Championship competition in Lake Placid, N.Y., he was the second highest scoring American placing 13th in combined and 53rd in the 18-kilometer cross-country race, according to ski historian Sureva Towler.
At the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway, Wegeman ranked 18th in Nordic combined after completing two jumps, but he did not take part in the cross-country race because of an injury.
He was in Heavenly Valley, Calif., training for the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina, Italy, when he broke his neck, ending a 14-year competitive skiing career, Towler wrote in her book, “The History of Skiing at Steamboat Springs.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com