Just as Warren Miller was arguably the biggest influence on recreational alpine skiing in the last 60 years, Bob Beattie was unquestionably his counterpart in the sport of alpine ski racing.
As head coach of the University of Colorado ski team in the late 1950s, he recruited the legendary Buddy Werner to the school and then later to be part of the newly-formed US Ski Team, now the USSA. Following Werner’s tragic death in Austria, it was Beattie who brought his body home, then promptly turned around and guided Billy Kidd and Jimmy Heuga to silver and bronze in the 1964 Olympics. That scene is depicted in the photo above, with Kidd at left and Beattie center. It was soon after that he would be part of an international trio that created the FIS World Cup in 1966, which is still the top level of competition in the sport. In 1970 Beattie played a key role in revamping and popularizing the fledgling NASTAR program.
Beattie’s influence extended well beyond coaching and management. As a broadcaster and television host he worked tirelessly to promote the sport. In 1976, working as commentator with Frank Gifford, his call of Franz Klammer’s Olympic Downhill run electrified the country and prompted a surge of interest in skiing and ski racing.
If there were a Mount Rushmore memorializing the greats of the U.S. ski scene, we recently added Warren Miller alongside Stein Eriksen. Today we add Bob Beattie.