Friend of Portillo, Bob Beattie, Passes Away.
Any way you slice it, Bob Beattie was a legend in the world of skiing. From commentating on ABC and ESPN to coaching the US Ski Team from 1961 – 1969 to co-founding the Alpine Skiing World Cup in 1966, he more than made his mark on the industry.
While all of these accomplishments speak to what Beattie did, it was who he was that truly benefitted the world of skiing. He was a tireless promoter for the sport. He loved skiing with a passion. He finished coaching the US team in 1969 but didn’t take a break. He founded the World Pro Ski Tour in 1970 and put on a crazy roadshow to promote the tour. Also in 1970, he became the commissioner of NASTAR to help promote the sport — and not just the spectating, but the participation as well — for youth.
Beattie was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1986.
Beattie’s history with Portillo is long and storied. As the coach of the US Ski Team, he was the first to start the tradition of the team coming to Portillo to train in the North American summer months. This was in 1965. 1965 and 1966 were big years for Portillo and Beattie.
Portillo’s owner, Henry Purcell — a contemporary of Beattie — related his thoughts about Beattie and some of their adventures in the 1960s.
“Bob was always a great friend of Portillo. In 1965 he brought the US Alpine team to Portillo to train and participate in a pre World Championship competition. Portillo was hit with a huge Andean snow storm with high winds and amazing amounts of snow. Roads closed and the team was trapped in Portillo. Bob, however, was in Santiago when the roads closed and the only communication was by a fragile and complicated radio system. Bob was stressed that he was unable to do anything except wait. But he let us know what he thought through many radio messages. The whole thing was a disaster and we had to arrange an over the snow exit for the team. In spite of the 1965 tragedy, the World Championships were held successfully in 1966 and in spite of the difficulties of Chile in those years Bob became convinced that summer training would be valuable for the team and began what has been a long and exciting relationship between the US Alpine teams and Portillo.
During the 1966 World Championships in Portillo Bob Beattie, Serge Lange, and Honoré Bonnet, meeting in the Bar of the Portillo Hotel, managed to convince the majority of the teams that they should participate in what became the World Cup. Bob was always at the forefront of new ideas to improve the sport of Alpine Skiing.
We last met in Beaver Creek at the World Cup Races and we chatted about the adventures of the 1960´s in the Andes. He was a good friend and we will miss him.”