Ski Pioneer is a short film chronicling the life of Paul “Bud” Leimkuehler, a speed skater and WWII veteran who–after losing his leg in the Battle of the Bulge–returned home to become the first amputee skier in the US. The film, created by Paul’s granddaughter Katie Leimkuehler, has just earned Best Documentary at the Three Minute Film Festival in Sante Fe, NM, where it was selected from among 350 entries.
The story behind the film, including an interview with Katie, was also featured in The Ski Journal 6.3. Check it out, as well as the full press release below:
Ski Film Wins Award for Best Documentary
The short documentary, “Ski Pioneer,” was selected out of 350 entries and 49 finalists. The film was screened June 8 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe with all finalists. The seven category winners were announced after the screening.
The Three Minute Film Festival launched in 1998 by Jerry Barron’s production company Mission Control. Barron’s goal was to challenge filmmakers to tell a good story in just a few minutes and engage the audience. This year’s lineup included documentaries, animated films, horror pictures, music videos, comedies, dramas, and abstract mixed-media works.
The winning documentary “Ski Pioneer,” was inspired by the life of the Chicago resident’s grandfather. Paul Leimkuehler was a speed skater who lost his leg in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII and returned to the world of winter sports after designing outriggers becoming the first U.S amputee skier.
Leimkuehler created the documentary to help market the screenplay she wrote about her grandfather that follows his journey from the war to the ski slopes and all the challenges he encountered along the way.
“My grandfather’s story it something that has always inspired me, and that’s what I hope to do for others by sharing it,” Leimkuehler said. “He had a willingness in him to make things happen and I admire that.”
In 1981, Paul was inducted into The Ski Hall of Fame for his pivotal role in skiing in the amputee community. He was fondly referred to as “The Grandfather of Handicap Skiing.” Paul was also inducted into the National Disabled Ski Hall of Fame in 1996 for his accomplishments, and the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. He was also awarded the Purple Heart for his valiant efforts in the Battle of the Bulge.
Paul’s role not only impacted the world of skiing, but the prosthetic industry as well. He was president of the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association in 1959 and served as president on The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics. Additionally, The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists dedicated and named their online learning center after him.
“I think this is the type of story that can truly impact people in a positive way and remind them that there is nothing that can’t overcome,” Leimkuehler said, who teaches English at College of DuPage and was a former ski instructor.