John Bower, a member of the Class of 1963, has excelled in the field of Nordic skiing as a student-athlete, a professional, and a coach. As a sophomore at Middlebury, Bower became the first Panther skier to win a national title in Nordic during the 1961 NCAA Championships.
He followed his collegiate success with appearances in the 1962 World Championships and the 1964 and 1968 Olympics, competing in the cross-country relay. During his tenure with the U.S. team, Bower won four national Nordic combined titles.
In 1968, Bower made history by becoming the first American to win the King’s Cup, awarded to the top overall finisher in the Nordic combined at Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway. No non-Scandinavian had previously won the Norwegian event, hailed as the most prestigious Nordic event in the world. To this day, only three Americans have won the King’s Cup.
After retiring from competitive skiing, Bower returned to Middlebury to coach the Panther ski team from 1969 to 1975, helping oversee the first NCAA Championship ever hosted by the College in 1973. Two years later, Bower was named the Nordic program director of the U.S. Ski Team, a position he held from 1975–1980 and for a second time from 1988–1990.
Bower is a member of the National Ski Hall of Fame.