Lucile Wheeler, Alpine Skiing

1958 - Feature Story
When twenty year old Lucile Wheeler won both the downhill and giant slalom titles at the 1958 World Championships in Bad Gastein, Austria, she was breaking new ground and making up for lost time. Wheeler became the first North American to win an Olympic medal in the downhill, winning Bronze at the 1956 Olympic Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. The upset victories in Austria caught the imagination of the Canadian public and generated plenty of interest in skiing. A year later, for the first time, Canada sent a team of skiers to Europe to compete in the season’s races. For Wheeler in 1958, the World Championship appearance was simply overdue; she had qualified as a 14-year-old to attend the World Championship in Aspen, Colorado, but her parents decided she was too young to miss too much school and she never got the chance to attend. Wheeler made the most of her second opportunity. No Canadian woman would win again at the World Championships until Betsy Clifford in 1970.

Dave Perkins

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