Ski racer, coach, educator, journalist

Passing Date: 
Monday, June 29, 2020

A pillar in New England racing
for generations, William “Bill” McCollom enjoyed a lifetime immersed in the sport: as a coach, competitor, race official, author, educator and journalist. McCollom died from a heart condition at his home in Hartland, Vermont, on June 29, at age 74.

Born in Orange, New Jersey, McCollom grew up in Woodstock, Vermont, learning how to ski at age six. He graduated from the Holderness School in New Hampshire in 1964, and attended Middlebury College, where he earned All American honors on the ski team. After graduating, he started working as a teacher. In the mid-1970s he helped start the prestigious Killington Mountain School and returned there in 1987, serving as headmaster for a decade.

From an early age, McCollom spent his winters at Suicide Six. His family eventually started and competed in the Mid-Vermont Ski League. “There wasn’t much training, but we’d ski every possible moment,” he said, in an article in Woodstock Magazine, written by Lisa Densmore Ballard.

He served on the board of New England Masters Skiing, as Eastern Division Chair, for 30 years. McCollom also served on the Vermont Ski Racing Association board and was its executive director in 1980. During this time, he launched his writing career, filing race reports for the Stowe Reporter.

“He was part of the fabric of ski racing in Vermont,” Ballard said, and was a “fixture on the Masters circuit.” McCollom was a leading Vermont racer in the 1960s and won US Alpine Masters Championship events. “Bill skied faster than guys 20 years younger than him,” Ballard said.

McCollom is, perhaps, best known in the industry from his 15 years writing for Ski Racing. From 1998-2013, he traveled the world to cover events and the sport’s top racers and personalities. He wrote an influential column called “The Finish Line,” eventually publishing more than 300 columns. A collection of the columns was compiled in the book The View from The Finish Line in 2014.

When he wasn’t busy traveling to compete in races or write about racing, he kept himself engaged in the local community. Each year, he competed in his hometown Bunny Bertram Memorial Race at Suicide Six, often presenting the awards, as he was a talented public speaker. 

He also was involved in preserving Gilbert’s Hill Rope Tow, site of America’s first lift, as a historic landmark. One of his favorite jobs was coaching the Woodstock Union High School ski team from 2007-2015, leading the squad to several state titles during his time as head coach. He continued on as assistant coach through last winter.

Off the hill, McCollom was the recipient of many honors, including the Jack Tobin Award in 2009 for contributions to Eastern Masters racing. He was inducted into the Vermont Alpine Racing Association Hall of Fame in 2001 and also received the 2014 Paul Robbins Journalism Award.

In his final Ski Racing column, McCollom succinctly summed up his life, writing, “What could be better than total immersion in a sport that I loved?” —Iseult Devlin

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