Werner named college hall-of-famer

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— Steamboat Springs skier Loris Werner won his last NCAA national skiing title in 1966.

Now, more than 30 years later, the Steamboat Springs native will be honored by Western State College when he is inducted into the Mountaineer Sports Hall of Fame this September.

Werner, who was a two-time NCAA Skimeister Champion in 1965-66, will be in the sixth class to be inducted into the Mountaineer Sports Hall of Fame.

"It's a great honor to be recognized by your school for your athletic accomplishments," Werner said. "It was a real surprise for me when I heard that I had been nominated and selected."

Werner is a local skiing legend who not only won two collegiate national skimeister titles (downhill, cross country, ski jumping and slalom), but was also the U.S. national downhill champion in 1965 and named to the U.S. Olympic team in 1964 as a jumper and in 1969 as an alpine skier.

"In college, I was allowed to ski in all four events," he said. "That's how I got to be a four-way champion. But once you make the national team you have to choose which event you want."

Werner still recalls his days with the Western State ski team and the stirring moments that came from beating in-state rival Denver University occasionally.

"We never did it (beat DU) in the national finals, but we got them a couple of times at the regional level," Werner said. "That was a big thrill."

It was a top goal for the Gunnison team because the entire squad came from the United States, Werner said. Most of DU's ski jumpers came from Norway or Finland.

"You would have thought our college meets were held in Europe by the way guys talked," Werner said. "But all the guys on our team where from the United States."

Werner skied for Western State for three years, 1964 to 1967. He graduated from the college with a degree in business administration.

"It's a very big deal to be inducted into the Mountaineer Hall of Fame," Steamboat's Peter Wither said.

Wither, who is also a former Western State skier, and Sven Wiik , who coached the Mountaineers while Werner was there, nominated Werner for the honor.

"A whole lot of athletes go through Western State, but very few are inducted into the hall of fame." Wither said. "It's a privilege that is reserved for just a few people."

Werner graduated from Steamboat Springs High school in 1958. During that time he participated in football, baseball, track and skiing. He was also a member of the student council.

Back when Werner was on the team, freshmen were not allowed to ski at the varsity level. So, his entire college career was stretched over three years.

After his graduation from college, Werner returned to Steamboat Springs.

He was a co-owner of Werner's Storm Hut from 1962 to 1988, head coach of the men's national alpine team in 1968, and a head coach of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club from 1969 to 1970.

In 1971, he took a job with the Steamboat Ski Corp. as ski school director. He also acted as mountain manager, vice president of operations.

The short list of Werner's skiing accomplishments includes stints on both the national ski jumping and alpine teams -- and being a two-time Olympian.

Werner was a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Coaches Association, a member of the certification committee for the Rocky Mountain Ski Instructors and the chief of course for the women's world Cup downhill, super-G and slalom events, which were held here in Steamboat.

Today, Werner lives on a ranch near Phippsburg where he raises horses with his wife, Deb.

Werner will be inducted along with four other individuals and a team: J.W. Campbell, a former sports information director at the college; Sam Boyd, football and wrestling; Lori Nickolaus-Brooks, basketball; and the 1990 women's cross-country team.

"I think Loris needed to be recognized for his athletic achievements," Wither said. "Loris did it all... there are not that many people who can compete in all the different disciplines. Loris was an incredible athlete."


--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@amigo.net

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