Bob Tucker - Influential cross-country racer, manufacturer, gear rep
Bob Tucker died on April 1, on his 59th wedding anniversary, at his home in Carbondale, Colorado. He was 89.
His passion for skiing led him to a lifelong and influential career in the industry, as a competitor, manufacturer, importer and gear rep.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1931, Bob went to Williams College (1953), where as ski team captain he helped coach Ralph Townsend to elevate the club to the top tier of the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association, where it still stands today. He skied in the 1954 FIS Nordic World Championships in Falun, Sweden. For the next several years, Bob continued to skied competitively while studying in Geneva and at the University of Oslo, where he earned his MBA in business management.
He was president of the Cleveland Ski Club in the late 1950s, where he met his wife, Bobbye. Bob was named to both the 1956 (Cortina) and 1960 (Squaw Valley) U.S. Olympic Nordic Training Squads, but didn’t make the final teams and ended up officiating at both games. He was also manager of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Nordic Team for Innsbruck, and was the Assistant Chief Steward at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid.
In 1964 Tucker earned the USSA Award of Merit for outstanding service to the sport of skiing. And In 1966, he was named manager of the U.S. Nordic FIS Team to the Oslo World Championships. It was there that he and John Caldwell met with the Swedish FIS official, Inga Lowdin, and made arrangements for a three-week promotional tour of the U.S. by three Swedish women Nordic skiers during the early winter of 1967.
This tour was a key driver in expanding the visibility of women’s cross-country skiing in the U.S. in the late 1960s. It was at the Swedes’ welcoming party in Putney, Vermont, that Martha Rockwell was persuaded into racing the next day, and a career was born.
The Swedes’ trip jump-started the U.S. women’s cross-country program, which sent its first international women’s cross country team to a World Championship in 1970 in Czechoslovakia.
After 1966, Bob worked full time as a manufacturer’s rep for ski equipment importers, and started his own business, Nordic Sports Specialists, with his friend John Caldwell. This was one of the first full-scale U.S. businesses dedicated to cross-country equipment and wax. Bob even took a stab at making cross-country skis and came out with the short-lived Husky.
Bob repped for ski companies, notably Fischer and Swix, for 55 years, and along the way helped to groom many other reps, retailers and manufacturers. He was the first Fischer rep in the Rocky Mountains, and returned from a Fischer international sales meeting the day his daughter Polly was born. Exactly 50 years later, she joined Fischer as the Rocky Mountain Nordic rep, and remains so today
Bob spoke several languages, with his favorite being Norwegian. In addition to his passion for skiing, Bob was an avid outdoorsman, who loved to hunt, fish, hike and ride horses.