Considered one of the pioneers of disabled skiing, Paul Leimkuehler was one of the first to implement the use of “outriggers” in the United States.
Leimkuehler lost his leg above the knee in the infantry in 1944. In the 1950s, he heard about a European film featuring amputee skiers and developed his own outrigger ski crutches by stopping the film and making measurements on the screen. Leimkuehler and fellow amputee Stan Zakas began skiing with the devices, and word of their feats spread throughout the country. They shared their findings with other amputees and by the early 1960s, amputees in California were learning to ski with outriggers. The Flying Outrigger Ski Club began manufacturing the hinge mechanism for the ski crutches, making them widely available. By the late 1960s, Leimkuehler was helping advise the founders of the National Handicapped Ski Races helped develop disabled programs at several resorts.
Leimkuehler’s development of the first outriggers in the United States was a milestone in furthering disabled skiing. However, it was his efforts in teaching others how to use the equipment that demonstrates his caring and dedication to the sport.