Bill Marolt has brought fame to the State of Colorado as an athlete, a coach, and an administrator.
Born in Aspen, this Colorado native wasted no time in launching his career as a ski racer. His success brought him to the University of Colorado Ski Team and to international competition. Marolt won three United States Championships in three different alpine disciplines. In 1963, he was the national downhill champion, in 1964 he won the slalom title, and followed that with the 1965 giant slalom championship. His success on the U.S. Ski team led him to the Olympic stage, competing at the 1964 Winter Games at Innsbruck, Austria.
He retired from competition in 1968 and returned to the University of Colorado as the head ski coach. His Buffaloes won seven straight NCAA titles from 1969-1978, and led to his being named Alpine Director of the U.S. Ski Team in 1979. Coaching at the Olympics for the first time at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, one of his skiers, Phil Mahre, captured the silver medal in the slalom. That was only the prelude. In the period between Olympic years, the U.S. Ski Team enjoyed its most productive years on the World Cup circuit, winning team and individual titles. In the 1984 Winter Games at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, Marolt’s alpine team enjoyed unprecedented success. Bill Johnson became the first American to win an Olympic downhill. Debbie Armstrong took the gold in the giant slalom and Christin Cooper made it a 1-2 American finish by taking the silver. On the men’s side, the Mahre brothers, Phil and Steve, made it a sweep in the slalom, with Phil taking gold and Steve silver.
Marolt’s alma mater beckoned once again and he was named the University of Colorado Athletic Director in 1984. He transferred his hands-on style and insight from the ski slopes to the office place. Ski racers are willing to take risks, and Marolt did that by extending the contract of football coach Bill McCartney while the Buffs were in the midst of a 1-10 season. Colorado would win the National Football Championship six years later. CU continued to win NCAA ski championships and Marolt built solid programs in track, volleyball, soccer, golf, and tennis. The women’s basketball team won four Big 8 titles, and had five second place finishes. Marolt put the men’s basketball program on a solid footing by hiring CU’s first black head coach, Ricardo Patton. Marolt’s dream of a new football and athletic facility was realized with the completion of the Dal Ward Center. He was one of the key people in meshing the Big 8 and four Southwest Conference universities into the Big 12.
In 1996, Marolt returned to skiing as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. He integrated snowboarding into the organization and continued to build the freestyle and disabled ski programs to accomplish the vision of the Association to make the United States the best in the world in Olympic skiing and snowboarding.
Ski racers are willing to take risks, and Marolt did that by extending the contract of football coach Bill McCartney while the Buffs were in the midst of a 1-10 season.