William Oscar Johnson's contributions to skiing unparalleled
The sport of ski racing has lost one of its most staunch supporters. Sports Illustrated writer William Oscar Johnson passed away June 21.
Johnson wrote extensively on Olympic sports and authored a number of books including Zero Factor, Hammered Gold, The Olympics, a History of the Games and Whatt-Gal (The Babe Didikson Story).
He wrote about downhillers Franz Klammer and Billy D Johnson. He wrote about Jackrabbit Smith-Johannsen when he was still skiing at age 102 in an article adeptly titled “The Old man and the Ski.”
He wrote about the end of the 1979 season when skiers elected a stop over in Hawaii en route home from Japan where the great Ingemar Stenmark asked World Cup czar and founder Serge Lang to tell him about Jean-Claude Killy.
In 1981 he wrote about “The White Circus,” with American Phil Mahre overshadowing Stenmark, victory by 18 year old Tamara McKinney and Canadian Steve Podborski threatening to become the first non-European to win the downhill title.
He did not confine himself to North American subjects. His piece of the pressures felt by Bojan Krizaj during the Sarajevo Olympics was outstanding, as was his coverage from Lake Placid in 1980, Calgary in '88 and every winter Games between 1976 and 1992.
Johnson was also the man who wrote that Ski Racing Magazine was “the bible” of the sport, a statement that certainly endeared him around these corridors.
William Oscar Johnson's abilities and his dedication to our sport will be sadly missed.