BUEK – “Mad Dog” Dick Buek – Olympic Skier

The Legend of Olympic Skier – Carl Richard Buek

Dick Buek_Mad DogOlympic downhill skier. Born in Oakland, California, his given name was Richard Carl “Dick” Buek. Better known as “Mad Dog”. A serious racer by the age of 18, he was the National Downhill Champion in 1952 and a member of the 1952 Olympic Team. He won a second national downhill title in 1954. His record included two runner-up efforts, a third and a fourth at the national championships. In 1948, he did a straight schuss at the Inferno Race on Mount Lassen. In 1949, he won the Silver Dollar Derby and the Far West Ski Association’s downhill title. In 1952, Dick won the United States National Downhill.

Dick seemed to be fearless and paid a heavy price for it. He suffered two broken backs, one from a motorcycle accident. He competed in the 1952 Winter Olympics Downhill in Helsinki, Finland. Despite falling twice on the course and careening off course (into the trees and back out), he managed a 12th place finish. The motorcycles and the two airplane crashes did more damage to Dick then the skiing did. When he wrecked his motorcycle he had virtually every bone on the right side of his body broken, including his arm, pelvis, leg, and ankle. His knee was completely shattered and his spleen ruptured. The doctor later told Dick that he would be lucky to walk again, let alone ski, but he told him that he was already late for getting into shape for next ski season.

The following winter he began his rehabilitation by skiing on one leg with half his body in a plaster cast. Despite painful therapy, his right knee was so damaged that Dick regained only 60 percent mobility with it. Metal pins held him together, but in 1954 he entered the U.S. Nationals at Aspen, Colorado, where he took first place in the Men’s Downhill. Dick also loved to perform aerial stunts like the time he flew his plane down a lift line at Squaw Valley, beneath the cables, banking around the lift towers like he was slalom skiing.

In 1955, Dick fell in love with paralyzed ski racer Jill Kinmon who had crashed at Alta, Utah. They spent a lot of time together while she rehabilitated, but Jill regained only limited movement and mobility. Dick proposed marriage, but Jill was unwilling to burden the energetic young man with her physical disabilities. This heartbreaking love story was portrayed in the movie “The Other Side of the Mountain.” Despite her injuries Kinmont became a teacher and painter.

Dick was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1974.

Dick died at the age of 27 while flying over Donner Lake. Ironically, Dick wasn’t at the stick of the airplane in which he was killed. It was a friend’s plane and Dick was giving the friend a piloting lesson. The wings iced up and the plane dived straight into the icy waters. (bio by: Shock)