John H. Caldwell

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John Caldwell
John Caldwell--U.S. Cross-Country Skier, Coach, and Author in 2009.JPG
Caldwell in 2009
Born John Homer Caldwell
(1928-11-28) November 28, 1928 (age 89)
Detroit, Michigan
Residence Putney, Vermont
Nationality United States of America
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Occupation Cross-country skier, coach, and author
Employer United States Ski Team, Putney School
Known for Promotion of cross-country skiing in the United States

John Homer Caldwell (born November 28, 1928) is a retired American nordic skier who competed in the 1952 Winter Olympics, then became a cross-country ski coach and authority on cross-country skiing. He wrote a series of books that helped popularize and develop understanding of recreational cross-country skiing in the United States. Consequently, Caldwell has been called the "father"[1] and "guru"[2] of Nordic skiing in North America.

Personal life[edit]

Born in Detroit, Michigan,[3] Caldwell grew up in Somerset, Pennsylvania[1] and moved to Putney, Vermont with his parents in 1941. He graduated from Dartmouth College In 1950.[4] Caldwell and his wife, Hep (née Hester Goodenough),[5] had four children, Tim, Sverre, Peter, and Jennifer.[6] He resides in Putney, Vermont.[4]


Caldwell served variously as a U.S. Ski Team coach, Putney School math teacher and coach, author on cross-country skiing topics, and founder of the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA).[4] Caldwell is credited with helping start up the U.S. women's cross-country skiing program.[7]

According to his reminiscences, Caldwell's early skiing career began while he was at Dartmouth College when he had an opportunity to participate in the World Nordic Championships in Nordic Combined skiing (both cross-country and ski-jumping). He entered the U.S. Navy through Dartmouth ROTC and was detailed to continue his skiing career. Having placed well in Olympic tryouts, he qualified for the 1952 Olympic Nordic Combined Team.[1] Caldwell competed in the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, finishing 22nd in the nordic combined event and 73rd in the 18 km cross-country skiing event.[3]

Caldwell coached the U.S. cross-country team at the Winter Olympics in 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1984.[3] He also coached at the Putney School from the mid-1950s until his 1989 retirement. Among the Putney students that he coached, who skied for the U.S. Cross-Country Ski Team, were Bob Gray (1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics), Martha Rockwell (1972 and 1976 Winter Olympics),[8] Mike Gallagher (1964, 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics),[9] his own children, and Bill Koch, the only American to ever medal in cross country skiing—both at the Winter Olympics (30 km silver: 1976 Innsbruck) and at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships (30 km bronze: 1982 Oslo).


Caldwell's book, The Cross-Country Ski Book, was published in eight editions from 1964 to 1987 and with a half-million copies became one of the most widely distributed skiing books, published in the United States.[10]

Caldwell's progeny continued the tradition of cross-country skiing.[11] His eldest son, Tim Caldwell, competed in four Winter Olympics from (1972 through 1984). His daughter, Jennifer Caldwell, was the women's champion of the 1983 American Birkebeiner.[6] His son, Sverre Caldwell, is a noted cross-country ski coach[12] whose daughter, Sophie Caldwell, finished sixth in the sprint freestyle event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the highest finish by a U.S. woman in Olympic cross-country skiing at that time.[13]

He was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1983[14] and into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame in April 2017, along with one-time mentee Martha Rockwell.[15]

Partial bibliography[edit]

In addition to writing on cross-country skiing for magazines and on line, Caldwell was the author of the following books:

  • The cross-country ski book. Brattleboro, Vermont: Stephen Greene Press. 1971. p. 182. ISBN 0828904545. 
  • The new cross-country ski book. Brattleboro, Vermont: Stephen Greene Press. 1973. p. 144. ISBN 0828901872. 
  • Caldwell on cross-country training and technique for the serious skier. Brattleboro, Vermont: Stephen Greene Press. 1975. p. 157. ISBN 0828902550. 
  • Cross-Country Skiing Today. Brattleboro, Vermont: Stephen Greene Press. 1977. p. 176. ISBN 0828903158. 
  • Caldwell on Competitive Cross-Country Skiing. New York: Penguin Books. 1979. p. 192. ISBN 0828903603. 
  • Cross-country skiing. New York: Penguin Books. 1981. p. 192. ISBN 0828904553. 


  1. ^ a b c Caldwell, John (2013). "John Caldwell". Origins. National Nordic Foundation. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  2. ^ Morton, John (November 1, 1999). "John Caldwell's Wild West Ski Tour". Vermont Sports Magazine. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  3. ^ a b c Editors. "John Caldwell". Olympic Sports. Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  4. ^ a b c Mangan, Audrey (October 31, 2011). "Where They Are Now: John Caldwell". Faster Skier. Retrieved 2014-02-14. 
  5. ^ Editors (December 28, 2011). "Jennifer Caldwell". Obituary. Manchester Union Leader. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  6. ^ a b Kendrick, Susan (January 12, 2012). "In Memory: Jennifer Caldwell, 1983 Women's Birkie Champion". Birkie. American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  7. ^ Shinn, Peggy (2018). World Class: The Making of the U.S. Women's Cross-Country Ski Team. Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England. p. 248. ISBN 9781512601817. 
  8. ^ Holhut, Randolph T. "Putney remains the heart of nordic skiing in Vermont". The Commons Online. The Commons. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  9. ^ Fiddler, Nancy (October 7, 2013). "Mike Gallagher: A Celebration of a Life Lived Large". Faster Skier. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  10. ^ John, Fry (2006). The Story of Modern Skiing. Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England. p. 198. ISBN 1-58465-489-9. 
  11. ^ Sheir, Rebecca (February 9, 2018). "Cross-Country Skiing Runs In The Family For Olympian Sophie Caldwell". WBUR. Burlington, Vermont. Retrieved 2018-02-17. 
  12. ^ Sabot, Topher (June 2, 2008). "Interview With Sverre Caldwell". New England Nordic Ski Association. Faster Skier. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  13. ^ Estrada, Chris (February 11, 2014). "Sophie Caldwell claims best Olympic finish for a U.S. female cross-country skier". NBC Olympic Talk. NBC News. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  14. ^ "John Caldwell". U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  15. ^ Staff (January 31, 2017). "Putney's Caldwell, Rockwell to enter Hall". Brattleboro Reformer. Brattleboro, Vermont. Retrieved 2018-02-17. 

External links[edit]