Born and raised in Leadville, Richard Malmgren was a 1958 Leadville High School graduate. He started practicing with the Leadville High School varsity ski team as an eighth grade student. When Richard was a sophomore, he qualified for the Junior Nationals held at Franconia, New Hampshire. As a junior, he again competed at the Junior Nationals (Reno, Nevada) ending the season twelfth in the nation.
At the Junior Nationals, held at Winter Park, Colorado, (his senior year) Richard's second place slalom finish helped give him a combined rating of seventh in the nation. He was selected as a member of the team sent to represent Colorado at the American Legion Western States Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho.