I grew up in the “Bill Koch Youth Ski League,” aka, BKYSL. This was the Nordic skiing development league named in honor of America’s first Olympic Medalist in Cross Country Skiing in the early 1980’s, Bill Koch, who won a Silver medal in 1976. Many folks may be unaware, however, in the beginning BKYSL was not only Cross Country but all Nordic disciplines including Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined. Why, you might ask? Well, it was because Bill Koch was an avid ski jumper and nearly made the 1972 Olympic team in Nordic Combined!
Bill Koch was a household name when I was a kid and while I traveled the Eastern and Mid-Atlantic (NYS) circuits competing in all the nordic disciplines the most important events were part of the BKYSL. My friends and I were fans and many of us went on to do well in Nordic Sports!
I will never forget the time I finally got meet Bill Koch, it was at a BKYSL festival in 1989 at the Craigwood Golf Course in Lake Placid, NY. He was there for the festival and avidly racing all of us youngsters around a 100m loop for a signed certificate!
This past summer I was on a (yet another) ZOOM meeting when I received a call from an unknown number but the caller ID read “Bennington, Vermont.” I thought, I bet I know who this is so I went ahead and answered the call. I heard, “Billy?”
“Yes, I said.”
“It’s Bill Koch. I’ve been looking forward to getting ahold of you.”
Playing it cool I naturally said, “Hey Bill, Great to hear your voice. Remember the last time we met? It was in 1989 at the golf course in Lake Placid.”
Well, from there we made some plans to meet which finally came to fruition this fall during the epic return to Lake Placid for the USA Nordic Team to take its first jumps at the revitalized (and completely World Class) venues! It was an epic camp topped off by a long conversation at the top of the new K-120m. Bill said to me, “Gosh, I’ve always wanted to jump again, I always loved ski jumping!” And to which I responded, “How about we go for a backcountry ski to start ;)”
Bill, I take that back. Whenever you are ready to take your next jump I will be there with you at the gate with my skis ready to follow you again. Thanks for being the inspiration to achieving bigger dreams and continuing to inspire us all with BKYSL. Hope to see you again soon and continuing to plot total world domination through Nordic Sports!
All the best,
PS: Bill is actively working with Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined clubs in the East to build new hills and get plastic!