Fresh Tracks is the story of Paul E. Leimkuehler, pioneer, ski legend, War Hero and "Father" of Three-Track Skiing.
Leimkuehler lost his leg as a Second Lieutenant during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. While waiting for his prosthesis to be created at McGuire General Hospital in Richmond, VA, he persuaded those in charge to allow him to use his knowledge of mechanical engineering to help out in the hospital's limb and brace shop. He worked with Blair Hanger in making his own prosthesis and then continued to work in the limb and brace shop for nine months as he completed his rehabilitation, sharing what he knew about adjustments that improved the fit, comfort, and efficacy of prostheses.
Sports were always an integral part of his life. As a teenager he competed in the 1936 U.S. Olympic Cycling Trials and was the 1938 Ohio State Cycling Champion. In 1956, after watching the Austrian movie, Miracle on Skis, he developed his own design of ski poles made from sawed-off forearm crutches attached to shortened children's skis. That year at age 38, he skied for the first time using the outrigger poles he made to keep his balance. He quickly became one of the smoothest alpine three-track skiers and racers in the United States.
Leimkuehler purposely didn't patent his outrigger design and allowed others to copy it. He convinced Head Ski Company to provide equipment to amputees to build their own sets of outrigger poles, and eagerly shared his drawings and measurements with all who requested them. For his pioneering of amputee skiing in the U.S., he was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame, the National Disabled Skier Hall of Fame and the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. Today, amputee skiers everywhere use outrigger poles from his designs.
Fresh Tracks is produced by his granddaughter, Katie Leimkuehler. She originally wrote the screenplay for Fresh Tracks and decided to turn it into a documentary.