Werner Hoeger: Mormon Athlete
Werner Hoeger is an Olympic athlete who represented Venezuela with his son Christopher in the luge at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also competed in the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy where he earned his best finish with 32nd in the men’s singles event. Hoeger took up the sport at age forty-four. He was the oldest male competitor at both the 2002 and the 2006 Olympics.
Hoeger was born on December 15, 1953, to a German father and an Austrian mother. By the age of sixteen, he was a national gymnastics champion. During an international meet, he was recruited by a Brigham Young University gymnastics coach and left Venezuela for Provo, Utah. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education and his master’s degree in exercise science by the time he was twenty years old. He went on to earn his EdD degree, also from BYU. He taught at the University of Los Andes in Merida, Venezuela from 1978 to 1982, and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa from 1983 to 1986. For a year between those two teaching assignments, he worked as Technical Director of Fitness Monitoring in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. He joined the faculty at Boise State University in 1986 where he stayed until his retirement in 2009.
He had hoped to compete in gymnastics at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympic Games for Venezuela, but he was the only athlete with a chance to qualify and was never given the opportunity to try out for the games.
In addition to luge and gymnastics, Hoeger raced in the World Masters Athletics Championships in 2011. He competed in the 800, 1500, and 5000 meter events. In 2015 he finished third in the mile at the USA Track and Field Masters Indoors National Championships and third in the 800 meters and fourth in the 1500 meters events at the National Senior Games. In 2016 he was a finalist in the 800 and 1500 meters events at the World Masters Athletics Championships where he finished seventh and eighth, respectively. He designated an All-American by the USATF in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Hoeger is the author of nine fitness and wellness texbooks, with a total of sixty-three editions of these books. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.