Legendary ski racer and ski industry pioneer Tom Corcoran died at his home in South Carolina on Tuesday. He was 85.
Corcoran grew up in Canada, where he learned to ski while attending school in Quebec. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1954, Corcoran went on to be an Olympic skier and competed in the 1956 and 1960 Winter Olympics. In the ’60 Games, he placed fourth in the giant slalom—the best finish for an American man in the event until 2002, when Bode Miller won a silver medal.
After his Olympic career was over, he returned to New Hampshire and purchased the Waterville Inn and 425 acres at the base of Mt. Tecumseh. He opened Waterville Valley Resort in the winter of 1966-67, and quickly attracted skiers from around the region, including the Kennedy family.
According to the Waterville Valley Resort Association, Corcoran became friends with Robert Kennedy while working on his senatorial campaign, and the resort became a favorite for the Kennedys and their children. “Bobby’s Run” was named for Kennedy after his assassination in 1969.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, whose family bought the resort in 2010, said, “Tom wasn’t just the founder of Waterville Valley, he was the spirit that grew it into one of the most storied destinations in New England.”
Corcoran was responsible for attracting 11 World Cup events to Waterville Valley, including the 1969 World Cup slalom and giant slalom finals.
Skiing was Corcoran’s passion. Last winter, current Waterville Valley general manager Tim Smith recalled getting a phone call from Corcoran, who said he wanted to go skiing. Smith said when Corcoran arrived at his office, the founder looked his age, but once he was on the snow, he was a different person. “Get him up on skis and you could see that Olympic turn was still there,” Smith said. “That’s how I’m going to remember him.”