OUT OF THE GATE
Honoring the Coach
Hundreds gather in Aspen to celebrate living
legend Bob Beattie By Tom Kelly
Bob Beattie became motional as some 350 guests honored his career in the sport of skiing in Aspen.
At the Hotel Jerome, Franz
Klammer tipped his hat to the man
who made him a household name.
The Coach was there, smiling as the history of ski racing was
told to a packed crowd of more than 350 in the historic Hotel Jerome ballroom in Aspen. There were laughs and tears as some
of the greatest stars in the sport gathered to honor the man who
arguably had more to do in shaping alpine ski racing for the last
century than anyone: Bob Beattie.
“Bob has been such a big part of ski racing — in Colorado, in
America, in the world, and in history,” said Olympic medalist
and world champion Billy Kidd during the tribute. “He’s affected
so many people. He provided the defining moment in our lives
for Jimmie Heuga and I.”
“Bob always talked about team,” said Bill Marolt, a member of
Beattie’s 1964 Olympic team and now president and CEO of
the U.S. Ski Team. “You win together, you lose together, you
support each other. I’m happy I was a part of his team.”
The tribute grew out of a conversation among former World
Pro Skiing stars. Within a few months, that idea had grown into
the new World Pro Skiing Foundation, formed to both perpetu-
ate the legacy Beattie created with his tour and to create a fund
to support kids with a passion for ski racing.
A New Hampshire native, Beattie drew acclaim as a coach at
the University of Colorado. In the early ‘60s, he laid the ground-
work to form what is now the U.S. Ski Team. In a pivotal moment
on the final day of the 1964 Olympic Winter Games, Kidd and
Heuga won silver and bronze — the first U.S. men’s Olympic
alpine medals in history.
Beattie brought the sport to U.S. television and, in 1967, com-
bined with French coach Honore Bonnet and journalist Serge
Lang to form the FIS World Cup. Beattie went on to a storied
career as a broadcast commentator for ABC and ESPN — his
1976 call of Franz Klammer’s downhill gold is forever etched in
the annals of broadcast history.
“I really like to watch this run,” said Klammer with a laugh as
the fabled ABC clip was shown. “I always questioned myself if
my run made Bob more famous or his commentary made me
famous. Bob had the vision. He came to Europe for ABC and
saw a young racer from Austria and featured this guy for two
years and couldn’t get a single word of English out of me. Bob,
you did it all.”
“Bob had some rules with TV and he had them all right,” said
Crazy Canuck and broadcast partner Todd Brooker. “The one
good way to spoil a good show is to show too many racers. He
wanted to show the atmosphere and the people, plus show the
racers without their goggles and helmets. He wanted to pro-
mote a reason to watch people like Franz Klammer. You had to
meet them on a personal level.”
Through his entire career, Beattie blazed new territory. He didn’t
just make the sport better — he literally created every aspect of
it and sold it to whomever he could find.
Tom Kelly is the USSA vice president of communications.