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Wegeman, Keith


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Date of Birth: 1929

City/State of Birth: Denver, Colorado

Current Residence:

Olympics and Events Attended:
1952 Olympics, Oslo, Norway ~ Special Jumping

Brief Biography:
Wegeman started skiing at the age of three. In 1942 he won his first meet with a 59-foot jump at Homewood Park. Wegeman's family moved to Steamboat when he was fifteen and when he was in high school he was a talented athlete, lettering in track and football, and was the captain of his football team. He also received the Yampa Valley junior diving crown. In 1945 his high school team won the state skiing championship and it was here that he also took the individual and combined titles. His team won the American Legion Western Junior Three-Way Meet two years later and Wegeman again took the individual and combined titles. He also claimed the Rocky Mountain Division Class C jumping championship.

Wegeman graduated from high school in 1947 and went on to attend the Denver University on a four-year ski scholarship. He was known for "matchless form" on Willy Schaeffler's championship team. From 1949-1951 he competed for the top spot in Nordic Combined competition with Crosby Perry-Smith. Wegeman was nationally known as "the stylist from Steamboat Springs". In 1952 he earned a degree in physical education and that same year he joined the Army and was selected outstanding trainee at Fort Riley. He then went on to Camp Hale where he became an instructor at the Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command.

Wegeman retired from competition in 1956 following a series of falls during tryouts for the 1956 Olympic Team. Unhappy with the team selection process, he moved to Los Angeles where he started his own "Ski Tips" television program. He also wrote for Sports Illustrated and became a non-denominational preacher and youth evangelist, often working with prisoners.

In 1960 his love for jumping was rekindled while working at Squaw Valley as an interpreter for foreign designers in Olympic competition. Named the "flying evangelist" he joined the training squad. He won the most graceful rider award and many distance awards, but was unable to make the Squad.

His many accomplishments throughout his successful career include:
- Highest placing member of Olympic Team Special Jumper
- Longest jump (416 feet) made by an American on the world's highest jump in Oberdorf in 1952
- Awarded 50 firsts in intercollegiate ski competition (jumping)
- Intercollegiate Four-Way Champion 1949 and 1951
- Skimeister Award at Aspen 1949 and Mt. Hood in 1951
- Won Four combined championships in 1949
- Won five international special jumping meets
- Won the Triple Crown National Jumping Championship, FDR and Harold Nelson Trophies 1954
- Received the Western Interstate Jumping Championship and Presidents Cup in Sun Valley, Idaho 1948
- 1949 he won the Norge Ski Club 50th Annual Tournament Championship with two 189- foot jumps
- Recipient of the Merrill and Lowell Thomas Trophies

Wegeman retired and went on to become an actor. He was best known for his role as the Jolly Green Giant in television commercials. He died of cancer, at the age of 44, leaving behind a wife and three children.





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