Bob Bondurant, speedskater, dies aged 88

Bob Bondurant, a former speedskater who taught motorcycle daredevils and Paul Newman and Jack Nicholson how to battle on two wheels, has died. He was 88. Bondurant died of natural causes in Boise, Idaho,…

Bob Bondurant, a former speedskater who taught motorcycle daredevils and Paul Newman and Jack Nicholson how to battle on two wheels, has died. He was 88.

Bondurant died of natural causes in Boise, Idaho, on Sunday, his family said.

More than 2,200 pounds of machinery driven by 10 big bikes passes through Bondurant’s SpeedSkating Studio in 1998. Photograph: Jay Avendano/AP

Known as the American Motorcycle Coursersman, he skated competitively at the 1960 and 1968 Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and was an avid cyclist. After retiring from competition, he created what he considered the world’s first speedskating course and built a 1.6-mile (2.4km) track in Idaho.

His track is used in the Cirque du Ski World Cup, which has two legs – one in Aspen, Colorado, and one in Telluride, Colorado.

“Bob was an inspiration to all of us in speedskating and an inspiration to all of us in our quest to be better racers and better skaters,” said Larisa Russell, an Olympic gold medalist from the United States who won gold in the women’s 5,000m at the 2008 world championships. “He saw a way to develop skaters into athletes and he did it through speedskating.”

He also taught other athletes, including Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb, Mr Incredible in the Fantastic Four films, actor Paul Newman and actor Jack Nicholson, to race motorcycles.

“Bondurant will be remembered as one of speedskating’s great legends but he is also known for building many firsts in two-wheel racing and he was just as good at teaching new talent and still helping all of us as long as we needed him,” said Bill Short, manager of the SpeedSkating campus at the University of Idaho.

Bondurant will be buried on Thursday in Le Grand Provence cemetery, a short distance from the SpeedSkating campus.

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