Longtime Ski Racing journalist and statistician

Passing Date: 
Saturday, November 5, 2016

Acclaimed ski journalist Hank McKee, who covered the sport at all levels and around the world during his 36-year career at Ski Racing, died unexpectedly at home in Duxbury, Vermont on November 5, 2016. He was 66. 

McKee was a man of contradiction. Jovial and carefree, he sported an aging-hippie-meets-Mark-Twain look, possessed a boisterously infectious laugh, sang lead for his rock band, the Wretched Group, and hosted, every year at his home, the notoriously theater-of-the-absurd St. Divots golf tournament. 

Yet he was an uncommonly organized and highly respected professional journalist. McKee was a living file cabinet systematically crammed with every nuance of ski-racing history. In the 1990s, when computer programming was still largely the arcane province of specialists, McKee created a comprehensive ski-racing database in his job at Ski Racing. Updated every year, “it became the worldwide bible of ski competition,” said his colleague Tim Etchells.

If you wanted to dive into the oceanic depths of racing statistics, McKee was your man. What was Alberto Tomba’s margin of victory in his final World Cup slalom? Who fared better in the junior rivalry between Julia Mancuso and Lindsey (Kildow) Vonn? And so on. McKee could have an answer in less than 30 seconds.

Born and raised in Fredonia, New York, McKee came to Ski Racing, then based in Vermont, in 1980. And he stayed. Spending 36 years with the same employer is a rarity in the modern world, but McKee found something he loved, and he dedicated himself to it.

The lead of McKee’s final Ski Racing column, published posthumously, was classic Hank, packed with statistical detail:

“The countdown is on. Vonn could reset the record for most career wins. Once thought unassailable, Ingemar Stenmark’s record 86 victories is in definite jeopardy. She needs 10 more top steps on the podium in order to tie him, which is no sure thing. Vonn has surpassed 10 wins a season twice, five seasons ago and seven seasons ago. Last year she posted nine wins. In 2015, it was eight.”

McKee produced “the nuts and bolts that everybody lived by at Ski Racing,” said Steve Porino, who worked with McKee at Ski Racing in the late 1990s. “Hank was the anchor.” That devotion to journalistic detail earned McKee the 2010 FIS Journalist of the Year Award and the Paul Robbins Journalism Award from the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum the same year. While other staff members traveled internationally to races, McKee spent most of his time at his desk, pounding away so hard at his computer that, says Porino, “he kept going through keyboards. The letters would become worn off.” McKee was working at his keyboard when he died.

McKee is survived by his wife, Mame, and their four children: Cassey McKee, Jessica Mame Ramey, Mina LaFarge and Ron Juckett. Friends have started a crowdfunding drive to help the family with funeral expenses and a new furnace; to donate, go to A celebration of his life will be held at the Killington World Cup on Friday, November 25. —Peter Oliver

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