COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (WLUC) - Two time Olympic Ski Jumper Eugene Robert “Gene” Kotlarek passed away November 9th in his hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo. Kotlarek, who was a ski jumping legend in the 1960s, was 77 years old.
Gene Kotlarek grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, where he began skiing at the age of five under the tutelage of his father George. By the age of 17, he had won the Minnesota State High School title, as well as the Boys title at the National Junior Championship.
Kotlarek was named to his first Olympic team in 1960, representing the US on home soil at Squaw Valley. It was the first of two Olympic teams Kotlarek would be a part of, as he was named again in 1964. Major highlights of his skiing career include three National Titles in 1963, 1966, and 1967, as well as setting the American distance record, flying 454 feet in Oberstdorf, Germany in 1964. The record stood for nearly a decade.
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