Tales from the Tread: Museum receives 50 Werner family films
The Tread of Pioneers Museum recently received more irreplaceable treasures capturing Steamboat Springs’ rich history: 50 reels of Werner family home movie footage. The films are both 8-mm and 16-mm format, color and black and white, and film content dates between 1950 and 1963.
The home movie footage reveals the spirit and heart of this legendary local family. The reels provide a glimpse into the lives and personalities of the family members and showcases events experienced by the family: Winter Carnival, rodeo events, hunting and camping trips, travel and state-wide ski competitions.
The highlight of the footage is the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, where both Loris and Buddy Werner proudly represented the U.S. Ski Team.
To preserve this exceptional footage and make it accessible to the public, Tread of Pioneers Museum staff will have the original film reels transferred to a digital format. A compilation of excerpts of the films will be shown during the museum’s 2018-19 Winter Film Series hosted at the Chief Theater. The original film reels will be safely stored in the museum’s environmentally-controlled collection care facility.
The films were donated to the museum, along with many other Werner family items, by the youngest member of the beloved Werner family, Loris Werner. Like his brother Buddy, Loris started as a ski jumper and later specialized in downhill and eventually attended the 1964 and 1968 Olympics. Loris enjoyed a long career at Steamboat Ski Area and served as vice president of operations for several years. Loris continues to reside in Routt County with his wife, Deb, and both are active members of the community.
The films were recorded by the patriarch of the Werner family, Ed “Pop” Werner, who among his many community contributions, was a mainstay of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the volunteer fire department.
All three Werner siblings were accomplished athletes and Olympic skiers who were inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. Local Alpine ski racer and Olympian Buddy Werner became the first American to break the European’s domination in the sport of skiing. He was also the first American to win major international skiing awards making him the most accomplished American ski racer in history. He attended the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics before his tragic death in an avalanche in the Alps.
Gladys “Skeeter” Werner was the oldest child in the famous Werner family. She also received national attention throughout her skiing career. Skeeter became the youngest member of the U.S. FIS team before she attended the 1952 and 1956 Olympics.
“We trained at Howelsen Hill,” said Skeeter in an interview with the Tread of Pioneers Museum. “I don’t think we give that ski area enough credit. It’s steep, tough terrain — very, very difficult to ski. If you can ski there, you can ski anywhere.
“For more than 30 years, Pop was the driving force behind the club. He and Hazie also worked on the ranch, at the family store, selling hot dogs at Howelsen — whatever it took so we could ski,” Skeeter said.
“It was a thrill to be able to represent our hometown, and later our country, at events all over the world. Buddy, especially, left his mark. He was the first American skier to be considered a serious threat to Austrian dominance of the sport.”
Skeeter returned to Steamboat in 1962 where she later founded the Steamboat Ski School and married football star Doak Walker.
The matriarch of the family, Hazie Werner, is remembered fondly for her unmatched hospitality and support of young ski athletes in Steamboat. The Hazie Werner Award of Excellence was established in her honor.
To learn more about the legendary ski racer Buddy Werner don’t miss the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s Winter Film Series at the Chief Theater at 6 p.m. Feb. 13 showing “I Never Look Back: The Buddy Werner Story.” Experience Werner’s triumphs, tribulations and tragic death in this 1997 biographical film by John and Joe Dee.
Candice Bannister is the executive director for Tread of Pioneers Museum. Find more information at treadofpioneers.org.
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