Bill Koch (skier)

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Bill Koch
Bill Koch Innsbruck 1976 PA-0797 U 8816 II 008 (cropped).jpg
Country United States
Full nameWilliam Conrad Koch
Born (1955-06-07) June 7, 1955 (age 64)
Brattleboro, Vermont, U.S.
World Cup career
Seasons19821984, 1992
Individual wins5
Indiv. podiums8
Team podiums0
Indiv. starts18
Team starts1
Overall titles1 – (1982)

William Conrad "Bill" Koch[1] (born June 7, 1955) is an American skier who competed at international level.

A native of Brattleboro, Vermont, he is a graduate of the nearby Putney School in Putney. He originally competed in the NIS[clarification needed] in the Nordic combined, but later switched to cross-country skiing. In 1974, he became the first American to win a medal in international competition, placing third in the European junior championships.

Koch won the silver medal in the 30 km event at the 1976 Winter Olympics, becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing, and the only one until 2018. Koch also finished sixth in the 15 km event at those same Winter Games. Koch has the world record time for 30k set on South Pond in Marlboro, Vermont.

Stress caused by media pressure, along with asthma, plagued Koch after his early successes. Considered the top American sportsman at the 1980 Winter Olympics, he performed poorly and finished far out of contention in all of his races.

Afterward, he popularized a new skiing technique that resembled ice skating on skis, now known as the skate-skiing cross-country skiing technique. Races that allow skate-skiing are called free technique races because they allow skiers to use either skate-skiing technique or classic technique. In 1982 he was crowned the cross-country skiing overall World Cup champion. Koch earned a bronze medal in the 30 km event at the 1982 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, becoming the first non-European ever to medal in cross-country skiing at the World Championships. (Canada's Sara Renner would become the second when she earned a bronze medal in the individual sprint at the 2005 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf.) Koch also finished third overall in the 1983 World Cup. The freestyle skiing technique has been used in Biathlon competitions since 1985, has been mandatory in Nordic Combined since 1985, and has been part of all cross-country skiing competitions since 1982.[2] Koch carried the American flag at the opening ceremonies of the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.

The Bill Koch Ski League, the youth ski league of NENSA (the New England Nordic Ski Association), is named after Koch.

In 2012, Koch was honored as part of the inaugural class of the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame.

World Cup results[edit]

All results are sourced from the International Ski Federation (FIS).[3]

Season titles[edit]

  • 1 title – (1 overall)
1982 Overall

World Cup standings[edit]

 Season   Age  Overall
1982 27 1
1983 28 3
1984 29 54
1992 37 NC

Individual podiums[edit]

  • 5 victories
  • 8 podiums
No. Season Date Location Race Level Place
1 1981–82 16 January 1982 Switzerland Le Brassus, Switzerland 15 km Individual World Cup 1st
2 21 January 1982 Italy Brusson, Italy 30 km Individual World Cup 1st
3 20 February 1982 Norway Oslo, Norway 30 km Individual World Championships[1] 3rd
4 12 March 1982 Sweden Falun, Sweden 30 km Individual World Cup 1st
5 27 March 1982 Italy Kastelruth, Italy 15 km Individual World Cup 1st
6 1982–83 14 January 1983 West Germany Reit im Winkl, West Germany 15 km Individual World Cup 2nd
7 12 February 1983 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Sarajevo, Yugoslavia 30 km Individual World Cup 1st
8 19 March 1983 United States Anchorage, United States 15 km Individual World Cup 3rd

Note: 1 Until the 1999 World Championships, World Championship races were included in the World Cup scoring system.


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Bill Koch". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  2. ^ Bengtsson, Bengt Erik. "Cross-Country Skating: How It Started". International Ski History Association. Skiing History Magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-25. America’s Bill Koch first observed the skate step at a Swedish marathon, then applied it to win the 1982 World Cup of Cross Country skiing.
  3. ^ "Athlete : KOCH Bill". FIS-Ski. International Ski Federation. Retrieved 26 February 2018.

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by
Evelyn Ashford
Flagbearer for  United States
Albertville 1992
Succeeded by
Francie Larrieu Smith