At her first Olympic appearance at Oslo 1952, Canada’s Lucile Wheeler had a best finish of 26th in the slalom. At Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956, Wheeler was third out of the downhill start hut finishing in 1:40.7, a time that would comfortably hold up for a bronze medal, becoming the first North American Olympic medalist in the downhill. She was sixth in the giant slalom and was disqualified from the slalom.
In 1957, Wheeler was recognized by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) as one of the three top women alpine skiers in the world, having won both the downhill and combined in Kitzbühel, Austria. In World Championship races, she won two gold (1958 downhill, giant slalom), one silver (1958 combined) and one bronze (1956 downhill). Wheeler qualified for the 1950 World Championships, but her parents would not allow her to attend.
Wheeler grew up in St. Jovite, Québec, not far from Mont Tremblant, and was skiing by the age of two running messages three quarters of a mile from her home to Gray Rocks, the internationally famous inn owned by her family. Her first major race was at age 10, finishing seventh in a field of 21, none of whom were juniors. By 12, she was the Canadian Junior downhill and combined champion. Her father Harry Wheeler competed at Lake Placid 1932, finishing fourth in the non-medal event of dogsled racing.
Wheeler retired from skiing in 1959 and starred in instructional skiing videos. In 1960, she married Canadian Football League (CFL) Hall of Fame player, Ottawa Roughriders lineman Kaye Vaughan. When his football career was over, they settled in the village of Knowlton in Québec’s Eastern Townships where she continued skiing into her senior years. A mother of two children, Wheeler funded and organized youth ski programs. Their son Jake played two seasons in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts.
Wheeler was much admired by her rivals in Europe and was thoroughly respected by ski officials everywhere for her fine sportsmanship. In Canadian sports history, she was a living legend. At Calgary 1988, Wheeler was a bearer of the Olympic flag at the Opening Ceremony. In 1958, Wheeler was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy, Bobbie Rosenfeld Award, Velma Springstead Trophy and inducted into the Canadian Olympic Sports Hall of Fame. In 1976, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and US Ski Hall of Fame. In 1982, she was inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame and in 2005, Laurentian Hall of Fame.
|1952 Oslo||Skiing - Alpine||Downhill - Women||27|
|1952 Oslo||Skiing - Alpine||Giant Slalom - Women||27|
|1952 Oslo||Skiing - Alpine||Slalom - Women||26|
|1956 Cortina d'Ampezzo||Skiing - Alpine||Downhill - Women||Bronze|
|1956 Cortina d'Ampezzo||Skiing - Alpine||Giant Slalom - Women||6|
|1956 Cortina d'Ampezzo||Skiing - Alpine||Slalom - Women||DSQ|