Dartmouth racer, ski retailer

Passing Date: 
Saturday, April 11, 2015

Robert A. Skinner, Dartmouth downhiller, U.S. Army ski instructor, retailer and racing promoter, died April 11, 2015, at age 96. 

Born in 1918, Skinner attended schools in Manchester, New Hampshire, graduating from Central High in 1935 and Phillips Exeter Academy in 1936. He graduated from Dartmouth in 1940 with three varsity letters for skiing. His teammates included Dick Durrance, Ted Hunter, Warren Chivers, David and Steven Bradley, Percy Rideout and Chapman Wentworth, part of the invincible 1939 Dartmouth Ski Team. He was best regarded as a downhiller, registering top finishes in the famed Greylock Thunderbolt race and the Inferno down Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington, but also won the Eastern Intercollegiate Slalom Championship.

Skinner worked in the ski industry in Yosemite, California, before entering the Air Corps. Late in 1941, Durrance—then ski school director at Alta—was recruited by the U.S. Army to train Company B of the 503rd Infantry Battalion (Paratroopers) as skiers. Durrance turned to his Dartmouth connections for instructors. Among them were Skinner, Walter Prager, High Bauer, Sel Hannah, Harry Simoneau, Jim Durrance, Alex Baer, Gordie Wren, Art Johanson and Bill Redlin. Many of the instructors soon transferred to the 10th Mountain Division. Skinner returned to the Air Corps and served as staff weather officer with a bombing group. He finished the war as a captain.

Returning to New Hampshire, Skinner and his wife Peggy founded Bob Skinner’s Ski and Sports shops, still serving customers in New England. He raced for the Mt. Sunapee Ski Club in the Master’s Division, winning the Eastern Championships several times, culminating with the National Master’s Downhill and Slalom Championship. The Bob Skinner Cup is still awarded by the New Hampshire Alpine Racing Association to young skiers at Mount Sunapee. He was predeceased by his wife, Peggy, in 1999.

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