Born 24 March 1920 in Winnipeg, Manitoba (CAN)
Died 9 February 2013 in Vernon, British Columbia (CAN)
Sankt Moritz 1948
Alpine Skiing – downhill 60th, slalom 50th, combined 36th
Ski jumping – individual 39th
Cross Country Skiing – 18km 81st
Nordic Combined – individual 37th
Alongside his brother Bert, Bill Irwin rose to prominence in the Canadian amateur skiing scene during the late 1930s and early 1940s, capturing first place in the Western Canadian Championships in 1937, 1939, 1941, and 1942, and the Vancouver Ski Classic in 1940, 1941, and 1942. After serving in the Canadian Army from 1943 through 1945, he quickly returned to form and qualified for 1948 Winter Olympics in six events: the downhill, the slalom, and the combined in alpine skiing, the 18 kilometers in cross-country skiing, the individual in Nordic combined, and the normal hill, individual in ski jumping. This meant that he missed only one individual event at the Games, the 50 kilometer cross-country ski. Despite his versatility, however, his best finish was 36th in the alpine combined competition. Coming up short at the Olympics, however, does not diminish his accomplishments, as he won over 200 trophies across all of the skiing disciplines, nationally and internationally, until his retirement from active competition in 1955.
Irwin began skiing at the age of nine, influenced by his father Bert “Pop” Irwin, who was manager of the Amber Ski Club and builder of Canada’s first cable-handle rope tow in 1934. Bill’s career was a winning one from start to finish: he won his first “Potato Race” in 1930 and his last “Over the Hill Downhill” in 1983. Outside of competition he taught Scottish Commandos how to ski and founded the Loch Lomond Ski Area and Club near Thunder Bay, Ontario. He was awarded the Ontario Tourism Award in 1975 for his promotion of skiing, and was inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame in 2000. His son Dave became an Olympic skier himself (1976 and 1980) and was a member of the Crazy Canucks, a group of Canadians who, during the 1970s and 1980s, gained a reputations as fast and reckless skiers.