Letters: Buddy Werner, Oscar Hambro


Buddy Werner and Me

I was intrigued with the January-February 2024 issue of the magazine. I found the article “1964: Breakthrough at Innsbruck” fascinating. In 1958-1959 I lived with my family in St. Anton. My parents were friends of Pepi Gabl, who was also a patient of my father’s. We were from Portland, Oregon, where my father was an orthopedic surgeon and Pepi was head of the ski school at Timberline Lodge. Pepi had built a small pension in St. Anton and was thrilled that my parents rented the entire place since Austria was really struggling after its brutal occupation after World War II. Paying guests were a rare commodity.

One day a patient of my fathers, Ron Funk, showed up with most of the U.S. Ski Team. Ron asked if they could live with us because we had room and they had no money. My father thought that was a great idea so long as some of them skied with me when they were in St. Anton during breaks in the racing schedule. All I can say is what an experience I had as a young ski racer from the States skiing with Buddy Werner who was living with us. That was the year Buddy won the Hahnenkamm downhill, which was an absolutely spectacular achievement. He fell in the slalom, and I remember walking down the street in St. Anton and seeing the headline of the newspaper saying, “Werner loses Hahnenkamm slalom”—not “Molterer wins slalom.” The Austrians absolutely loved him. I later went on to be (for what it is worth) the No. 1 Alpine skier for Williams College. Nothing, however, from a skiing point of view was as special as that winter with Buddy Werner, Max Marolt and some of the others.

Jock Kimberley
Portland, Oregon

Oscar Hambro Ad
Oscar Hambro ad, 1938

Oscar Hambro Company Revisited

I liked the back cover feature advertisement of Oscar Hambro Co. (“Ads from the Past,” January-February 2024). From some Norwegian skier research I did years ago, I found that Oscar opened his store in Boston in 1927, behind the Copley Plaza Hotel (now Fairmont Copley Plaza). It was one of the main ski stores in New England until World War II. He also added a store in New York City and opened the second ski factory in New Hampshire in 1937, just after Carl Lund established the Lund Ski factory in Laconia. Skis made in Oscar’s factory bore the Ski-Craft marking, which he patented. 

Oscar’s real name was Oscar Pedersen Hamre, born in 1894 to a fishing family on a farm near Stavanger, Norway. He migrated to Montreal in 1926, bringing a consignment of skis, boots and poles to sell. In the winter of 1927, he came to Boston and set up his ski-import store near the Carver Plaza Hotel. In the off season he worked as a sail maker for the yachting and fishing communities around Boston. His store was quite successful. The back cover of the American Ski Annual hosted his ads every year from 1934 through 1940. After World War II he closed the ski shop and bought a 75-foot retired Coast Guard boat he used for commercial fishing. In 1954 he moved to Seattle and later to LaConner, in Skagit County, where he was a well-known part of the commercial fishing community until his passing in 1971. 

Kirby Gilbert
Bellevue, Washington