Bill Koch is one of the most revolutionary Nordic skiers of all time. He was the first American to bring home a medal in the 30 km cross-country skiing at the 1976 Olympics, which Sports Illustrated described as “the greatest upset in Olympic history.” He was still the only American medalist until 2018. He is known as the father of skate skiing and is credited to bringing it to the US. He would practice on sand to perfect his technique and took his skis on trips to Maui, causing quite the spectacle on the beach.
“It was just so much fun cruising along the water’s edge, letting the waves chase you. I love the movements of skiing so much, I’ll ski on anything,” he told the Vermont Digger. As the poet Pablo Neruda described: The waves sing because they are moving. Koch is from Vermont and has returned to live there, at the edge of the Green Mountain National Forest in the town of Peru, population 531. He’s never lost his joy and love of cross country skiing. The Bill Koch Ski League, a national youth ski program that meets at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, was founded by Koch, to inspire the next generation of ski enthusiasts.