The untamed outlaw of skiing Billy Kidd
Type 'Billy Kidd' into Google, and the nineteenth-century American gunman leers out of a sepia picture. A successful photographer who shares the same name claims to have 'shot many people'. And Billy Kidd, born William Winston Kidd, is captured shooting down the mountain, Steamboat's patented 'champagne powder' flying in his wake.
Billy Kidd (the skier, that is) was born in April 1943 in Burlington, Vermont. He was the first American man to earn an Olympic medal in alpine skiing, aged just 20. And now, approaching 70, he is still on his skis more often than in his shoes.
"I took to skiing immediately", he says. "Because I grew up in Vermont, I could ski in my back yard. I was five years old. I would cut the branches off the trees behind the house so I could ski between them. And then when I was probably about eight or ten, I made a little rack for my bicycle that would also hold my skis. By wrapping rope around my wheels, I could ride by bike through the snow, kind of like snow chains".
It was no surprise that he made the U.S. ski team at 18. But it was not only the thrill of improving that made him say yes immediately. "I wanted to see the world, and ski racing took me there" he says. "I went to Switzerland, France and Austria. In the summer, the destination was Chile and Argentina, followed by Australia, New Zealand, and then Fiji and Bora-Bora on the way back".
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