Waterville Valley Founder Tom Corcoran Passes Away
Corcoran was a member of two United States Olympic teams.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Legendary skier and Waterville Valley founder Tom Corcoran passed away at his South Carolina home yesterday at the age of 85.
Born in Japan, Corcoran's early days of skiing were spent at Mont Tremblant in Quebec. Corcoran's uncle Thomas Gardiner Corcoran was an advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt.
Corcoran attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and found himself ski racing on the Mt. Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley.
After graduating from Dartmouth College, Corcoran represented the United States ski team in the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina. Corcoran then served as an officer in the Navy and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1959. In 1960, Corcoran placed fourth in the Giant Slalom at Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley.
In the early 1960s, Corcoran worked for the Aspen Skiing Corporation and soon became good friends with Robert F. Kennedy. In 1964, Corcoran volunteered on Kennedy's Senate campaign.
At the urging of Senator Kennedy, Corcoran starting searching for a place to build his own ski resort. After looking at potential locations in New York and Vermont, Corcoran conducted an aerial survey of Ragged Mountain, the Sawyer River Skiway, and Mt. Tecumseh, favoring the latter.
Reportedly with the help of Senator Kennedy, Corcoran secured the funding and United States Forest Service permit to construct a grand resort.
When Waterville Valley opened for the 1966-67 season, it was instantly one of the largest resorts in New England. After the assassination of Senator Kennedy in 1968, Corcoran named a new trail Bobby's Run.
With Waterville Valley leading the New Hampshire ski market, Corcoran began looking into other areas. After an initial attempt at developing a ski area on Mt. Tom in Crawford Notch did not pan out, Corcoran redeveloped Snow's Mountain with a new double chairlift.
In 1979, Corcoran and a group of investors purchased Bobcat ski area (today's Crotched Mountain), making him the owner of three ski areas. Corcoran sold his share in Crotched in the 1980s.
Corcoran continued to invest in Waterville Valley, installing the state's first high speed detachable chairlift in 1988.
After two bank failures in 1991, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took on the Waterville Company's notes, eventually pressuring the company into bankruptcy. As a result, the Waterville Company was forced to sell the ski area and conference center to S-K-I Ltd.
Corcoran remained in charge of everyday management for the Waterville Company until 1999.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, whose family now owns the resort, 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."