Bujakowski, Jerry


Never-say-die surfer and skier; India's first representative in the Winter Olympics, as well at that country's only representative in the 1968 World Surfing Championships. The son of a Polish oil developer and one-time RAF pilot, Jerry Bujakowski was born (1939) in Lithuania, but raised in India. He attended college in America, and began skiing at age 17, in Idaho; small (5' 6"), tough, and recklessly fast, he later attended University of Denver on a sports scholarship. After college, Bujakoski moved to Mammoth, California, to train for the 1964 Olympics; he began to surf during the summer months, and did so with the same intensity and fervor he brought to the ski slopes.

Ambitious and well-connected, Bujakowski was able to convince all the necessary governmental and sporting officials that he should represent India at the highest levels of both competitive surfing and skiing. Bujakowski was a popular figure wherever he traveled, although his reach exceeded his grasp. He suffered a broken back and a concussion after a fall during the downhill portion of the 1964 Winter Olympic Games, at Innsbruck, Austria; he was still recovering nearly two years later when he lost during the prelims of the 1966 World Surfing Championships, in San Diego. In the 1968 Games, held in Grenoble, France, Bujakowski skiied in the downhill, slalom and giant slalom events, failing to advance in all three. At the 1968 World Surfing Championships, in Puerto Rico, Bujakowski raised eyebrows by wearing sneakers during his heat to protect against sea urchins.

Bujakowski lived in California for the rest of his life. He died in 2010, at age 71.