Hall of Famer

Dr William (Bill) L. Ball

Affiliated Discipline(s): Alpine
Date of Birth / Death: 1908 - 1979
Hometown: Ottawa, ON
Active Career Period: 1932 - 1979
Induction CSHF: 1982
Induction Category: Alpine, Builder
William Ball skiing on a hill in St. Sauveur. CSHFM Collection.

Martin Cleary writing in the Ottawa Citizen, Thursday, March 22, 1979 commented that Dr Bill Ball was”…the total skier – alpine, cross-country, jumping, author (on skiing), innovator and executive – and was often referred to a the Herman Jackrabbit Smith-Johannsen of alpine skiing”.

Career Highlights

1932     Alternate member on the Canadian Olympic Team at the Winter Games held at Lake Placid, N.Y., U.S.A.

1936     Member of the Canadian Olympic Team at the Winter Games held at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

1936     Honorary Coach, McGill University ski teams.

1937     Chairman, Canadian Amateur Ski Association’s Ski Instruction Committee.

1937     Chairman, Canadian Ski School Committee.

1939     Contributor to the Canadian Ski Manual, the first ski instructors’ manual published in Canada.

In the 1930s, he was arguably Canada’s most proficient all-round skier, participating actively in both alpine and Nordic events. In the ratings of the Laurentian Ski Zone, he was the only skier to be rated Class 1 in all four events – cross-country, jumping, downhill and slalom. Among his best showings were a 2nd place finish in the Canadian Nordic Combined, 2nd place in the Quebec Kandahar, 1st place in the Quebec Slalom Championship.

Bill Ball was the author of “I Skied The Thirties″, (Deneau Publishers & Company Ltd.)


Please Note: The ski information gathered here is compiled from a number of sources; it may not be inclusive of all accomplishments.
Copyright © 2021, Canadian Ski Museum. For Personal/Educational use only. All Rights Reserved.

Cross country skier making herringbone tracks. CSHFM Collection.

(W.L. [Bill] Ball explains how he learned to climb using the herringbone in his book ‘I Skied the Thirties’, p.4).

In cross-country skiing, the technique seen here is known as the “herringbone” and is often used for climbing steep hills. “The instinctive thing you do when you start to slide back (after you have passed through the phase of allowing your skis to slide back from under you and dropping on your face) is to put your skis in a V as soon as the backslip starts. From there it is natural to continue climbing with the herringbone V until you reach level ground and no longer backslip.”

Bill Ball c.1936. CSHFM Collection.

Bill Ball alpine skiing c. 1936. CSHFM Collection.

The complete McGill contingent, including graduate competitors and team managers. [L to R]: Jack Houghton, Frank Campbell, George Jost, Fred Taylor, Alex Kieller (President of the Ski Club of Great Britain, and sponsor of the Canadian-British meet), Stirling Maxwell, Harry Pangman, Bill Ball, Walter Dorken, Peter Renold. In 1931-32, the McGill Ski Team competed with Oxford and Cambridge University Team at St. Moritz, Switzerland and also in the European Universities Championships held at the same time. In this meet the McGill Team made its name by winning the five-man relay race. These events are well described in Bill Ball’s book “I skied the Thirties”. Blau H. Niedecken, St. Moritz.

Bill Ball, Harry Pangman, Jack Houghton – St. Moritz, Switzerland 1933. CSHFM Collection.

The McGill undergraduate ski team: Bill Ball, Frank Campbell, Jack Houghton, Walter Dorken, Peter Renold. In 1931-32, the McGill Ski Team competed with Oxford and Cambridge University Team at St. Moritz, Switzerland and also in the European Universities Championships. Blau H. Niedecken, St. Moritz.

Bud Clark (far left) and Bill Ball (2nd from left) in Germany, competing in 1936 Olympic Winter Games. CSHFM Collection.

1936 Canadian Olympic Men’s Ski Team at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany [L to R]: Harry Pangman (manager), Tormod Mobraaten, William George “Bud” Clarke, William “Bill” Ball, Norman Gagné, Karl Johan Baadsvick. CSHFM Collection.

McGill Intercollegiate Team Seigneury Club [L to R]: Col. Bovey, W.B. Thompson, Bob Patterson, W.Billingsly (manager), Bill Ball, Ray Stott (snowshoer), Jack Houghton, Peter Renold, Walter Dorken, Col. Stack. Front row: Frank Campbell, Bill Tait, Major Forres, ?, ?, Ron Deaton c. 1933. CSHFM Collection.

1932 Canadian Olympic Ski Team at Lake Placid Club Course [L to R]: Sigurd Lockeberg (manager), Louis Grimes (coach), Jostein Nordmoe, Arthur Gravel, Kaare Engstad, John Currie, William “Bud” Clark, Arnold Stone, Robert Lymburne, Howard Bagguley, David Douglas, John Taylor, Ross Wilson, Jacques Landry, Leslie Gagné. CSHFM Collection.

Bill Ball alpine skiing. CSHFM Collection.

Bill Ball 1937-38. CSHFM Collection.

Bill Ball
Bill Ball (2nd from left) with Bud Clark (far left), members of 1936 Canadian Olympic Ski Team. CSHFM Collection.

Crowd of skiers with Bill Ball at Val David Station. This ski train from Montreal to Ste. Marguerita was to celebrate Jackrabbit’s 100th birthday. The train picked up people from all the district of Val David, QC. March 1975. Photo Elizabeth Cook.

Bill Ball - c. 1930s.
Bill Ball – c. 1930s. The Canadian Ski Museum Collection.

Bill Ball, Jackrabbit Johannsen and Kathi Telfer seated in the exhibit area at the Canadian Ski Museum located on Sussex Drive (Ottawa, ON), November 9th, 1976. CSHFM Collection.