Paul E. Anna: The best Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
While we have not seen any of our local athletes on the podium as of yet (Go, Chris, Go !!!), there is one son of Aspen who is having arguably the best Olympic Games of anyone.
Bill Marolt, the president and chief executive officer of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA), has seen skiers and snowboarders under his umbrella win – as of this writing – 17 of the 28 medals claimed by the United States in Vancouver. And there will likely be more to come.
That is an unprecedented haul; if the USSA was a country, it would find itself in fourth place in the medal count behind the United States (of course if the USSA seceded from the USA that would leave the USA with just 11 medals), Germany and Norway. Five of the seven golds and five of the nine silvers captured by Americans have come from the skiing family.
Who would have thunk it before these Games began?
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Well, Bill Marolt maybe. In an interview this past January with Bill Pennington of The New York Times, Marolt refused to be tied to a medal prediction. He did say, however, “Our goal is to try and win more medals than any other country. If we give it our best shot then we have the potential to have a really good Olympic Games.” Clearly, mission accomplished.
But accomplishment has been a word that has followed Bill Marolt his entire life. Born and raised here in Aspen, Bill skied to victory on Aspen Mountain to capture the 1962 Roch Cup at the age of 19. As a student at the University of Colorado, where he skied for Bob Beattie, Bill won the 1963 U.S. Downhill Championships, one of three Nationals that he would take.
In 1964, he went to Innsbruck as a member of the team that will forever be known for capturing the first two Olympic medals in U.S. men’s alpine skiing history as Billie Kidd and Jimmy Huega (who sadly passed earlier this month) took silver and bronze in the slalom.
Bill coached skiing at the University of Colorado and won seven National Championships in a nine-year period before taking over as director of the U.S. alpine skiing program. All he did there was lead the U.S. team to five medals at the 1984 Games in Sarajevo.
Then it was back to being a Buffalo as he took the reins of the University of Colorado athletic department. In 1990, the Buffs, for those too young to know that they were once a football power, won the National Championship on the gridiron.
Detect a pattern here? So did the USSA, and 14 years ago they again came calling and offered Bill the top spot. The job led to him moving to Park City, Utah, where the USSA is based, and though there have been some lean years in between, the results in Canada are a crowning achievement for Bill. They represent the pinnacle for a man who has been successful at every turn in his athletic career.
So successful, I would argue, that our hometown boy has been the most accomplished Colorado born sportsman that this state has ever produced. Since 1962 he has been either the workhorse or the architect of Colorado and U.S. skiing’s proudest achievements.
A Gold Medal for Bill Marolt.
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