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John Bower

Hall of Fame Class of 1969

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John Bower was an outstanding competitor in Nordic skiing. He rode his skis to triumph in the 70th Holmenkollen Festival in 1968, an amazing feat for any non-European skier.

John Bower was born in Auburn, Maine and first stepped on skis at age 14 months when he took his first ride on Brands Hill in Auburn in 1942. He was an excellent four-way skier in his early skiing days and competed in all events through high school. In his junior year he won the Junior Nordic titles in cross-country and nordic-combined while skiing for the United States Eastern Amateur Ski Association. It was that victory that first brought attention to Bower at the national level.

In 1962 John made the F.I.S. team for the World Ski Championships at Zakopane, Poland. In the swing around the European circuit Bower made showings, in fact, as good as any American skier had ever done in Europe. John then headed for his first try at the famed Holmenkollen events. The results, an 11th place in cross-country, 5th in jumping and 6th in nordic combined, shocked the European ski world. Bower had taken 6th place in this prestigious event on his first attempt, the best ever by an American and he was virtually unknown. Not for long, however.

In 1963 John won his first European event, a win in the nordic-combined in Lappeenranta, Finland as well as a 2nd place at Kuovola, Finland. Back in the United States, he enjoyed his most fruitful year winning the National Nordic Combined Championships in Franconia, New Hampshire. He graduated from Middlebury that same year and went off to fulfill his ROTC obligation of a two-year tour in the army.

Assigned to temporary duty with the Olympic Team in 1964, John skied on the United States Olympic Nordic Ski Team, placing 15th in the nordic-combined at the Innsbruck Olympics. John competed for the United States at the F.I.S. Championships in Oslo, Norway in 1966, placing 16th in the nordic-combined. He returned to the United States and won the National Nordic-Combined title, successfully defending it in 1967. In 1968 Bower was again named to the Olympic Team, taking 13th place on the nordic-combined.

The action then moved to Oslo and the Holmenkollen where he made history by capturing the coveted crown: the King’s Cup. The cup is awarded for the best overall score. By winning the cross-country event and finishing fourth in ski jumping, John Bower was a most deserved champion.

In 1969, Bower returned to his Alma Mater, Middlebury College, as the ski coach. He then coached the United States Ski Association Nordic Team. Later (in 1975-1980 and 1988-1992) he was Nordic Director for the United States Ski Team.

John Bower was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1969.

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