For many New Englanders, the voice of Bob Beattie will forever embody the thrill and excitement of alpine ski racing. And that voice will be missed. Beattie, the Manchester, N.H., native and Middlebury College graduate who founded the U.S. Ski Team and meant so much to the sport of ski racing, died in April at the age of 85.
Beattie worked as an ABC commentator for four Winter Olympics from 1976-88 and called many of the most thrilling races in the sport’s history, including Franz Klammer’s electrifying gold-medal run in the downhill at Innsbruck, Austria, in 1976.
His professional career in the sport began at Middlebury. A three-sport athlete, Beattie remained at Middlebury after graduating in 1955 with an education degree to serve as an assistant ski coach, and he was named acting coach a year later. In 1957, he became head coach of the ski team at the University of Colorado at Boulder, winning NCAA national titles in 1959 and 1960. That success launched Beattie into national prominence. He was named head alpine coach for the U.S. Ski Association team in 1961.
Under his direction as national coach, the United States won its first-ever medals in Winter Olympics competition when Billy Kidd won bronze and Jimmie Heuga silver in Austria in 1964.