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Lucille Wheeler: Wikis

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Medal record
Women's Alpine skiing
Competitor for  Canada
Olympic Games
Bronze 1956 Cortina Downhill
World Championships
Gold 1958 Bad Gastein Downhill
Gold 1958 Bad Gastein Giant Slalom
Silver 1958 Bad Gastein Combined

Lucile Wheeler, CM (born January 14, 1935) is a Canadian former Alpine skiing world champion. She was born in Montreal, Quebec.

Biography

Wheeler grew up in the village of Sainte-Jovite, Quebec, in the Laurentian mountains. Her family was instrumental in promoting the sport of skiing and her grandfather George Wheeler built the famous Gray Rocks ski center at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. Taught to ski at the age of two, Lucile Wheeler's skills were such that she was soon competing against older skiers. At age 10, she finished seventh in a downhill ski event at Mont Tremblant in a race that was open to participants of all ages. By age 12, she had won the Canadian junior ski championship and at 14 was selected to compete for Canada at the 1950 World Championships in Aspen, Colorado. However, her parents felt she was too young at age 15 to miss school and did not allow her to go.

The early 1950s was still a time when resources for Canadian skiers were extremely limited. There was very little in the way of government funding to cover expenses for skiers wishing to compete on the world stage or to pay for professional training. Recognizing their daughter's gifts, her parents bore the expense for her to spend several winters training in Kitzbühel, Austria. It paid off when she became the first North American Olympic medalist in the downhill in alpine skiing, winning the bronze at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. She followed this with a spectacular performance at the 1958 World Championships in Bad Gastein, Austria, where she won both the downhill and the giant slalom and came very close to winning the combined title, taking the silver.

Wheeler was voted the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's most outstanding athlete of 1958 and was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. In 1976, she was made a member of the Order of Canada, her country's highest civilian honor, and was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Following her retirement from competitive racing in 1959, Wheeler, along with Réal Charette, was a ski instructor in a film made at the Banff ski resort that won the American Library Association's award as the best educational sports film of 1960. A few years later, she married CFL Hall of Fame player Kaye Vaughan. For a time the couple lived in Ottawa, but in 1967 they moved to the village of Knowlton, Quebec, in the heart of a ski area known as the Eastern Townships. The mother of two children, at the high school in the nearby town of Cowansville Lucile Wheeler-Vaughan organized a ski program, introducing 14-and-under children to the sport.

Wheeler's breakthrough performance resulted in an increase in government funding that enabled other Canadian skiers to compete at the international level. Her achievements were also instrumental in increasing the popularity of the sport both nationwide and in her native Quebec where what was once a remote destination in the Laurentian mountains for only a limited few became a thriving ski area with an abundance of quality facilities that attracts hundreds of thousands of skiers every winter.

Awards
Preceded by
Maurice Richard
Lou Marsh Trophy winner
1958
Succeeded by
Barbara Wagner & Bob Paul
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