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But there was some un-Olympic nonsense mixed up in the choosing.
The final Olympic trials held during Stowe's American International races were highlighted by two performances: Bud Werner's downhill run and skiing officialdom's spectacular sitzmark.
Halfway through the Stowe tryouts, the Olympic Ski Games Committee began to bicker with its picked group of technical experts. The experts felt that a previously issued bulletin defining selection methods gave them a loud voice in naming the team. The committee thought otherwise.
Getting together after the first race at Stowe (the fourth race in the tryouts), the committeemen announced that they meant, by the bulletin, that the team would be selected strictly on a point system. But the skiers had been urged by the experts to try for brilliant (and therefore risky) performances. As it stood, the top male skiers, including Bill Beck, U.S. downhill co-champion, came to Stowe with at least one fall or disqualification behind them. During the International the American men skied uncertainly and were roundly trounced by the Europeans.
Only the downhill was different. In it Bud Werner (SI March 14), all but eliminated by two earlier falls, hurled himself down the trail with one thing in mind—to win. He shaved the trees lining Stowe's Nose Dive trail in a chilling display of nerve and control. And when he came smoking across the finish line he had beaten the trail record by 9.2 seconds and the best European by 4.7.
And he made the Olympic team by two seconds. The other top skiers managed to race evenly into Olympic berths—all except Bill Beck (see cut), whose fall in the giant slalom cost him a spot on the regular team. The experts and racers themselves both protested Beck's exclusion, but to no avail. Brooks Dodge, an Olympic veteran who made the squad, summed it up: "I never looked forward less to being a member of a team. This sort of thing takes all the fun out of it."
MAJOR WINNERS OF 1955