A outstanding four-event skier in high school and college, Bob Axtell joined the St. Lawrence staff as head ski coach and manager of the St. Lawrence University Snow Bowl in 1963 and established St. Lawrence's ski team as a consistent top four team among Eastern collegiate programs.
He competed in downhill, slalom, jumping and cross country at Town of Webb High School and Paul Smith's College and won the U.S. Eastern Four Event Championship as a freshman at Paul Smith's. He was invited to try out for the 1952 F.I.S. cross country tea and the 1954 U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined team. Following graduation from Paul Smith's he served two years in the Mountain and Cold Weather Unit at Fort Carson and Camp Hale in Colorado.
He returned to Paul Smith's in 1955 to start his coaching career and also coached the Old Forge team to the Eastern High School Championship. He began coaching skiing and was the first soccer coach at Norwich and was inducted into the Norwich Hall of Fame along with his 1961 team in the fall of 2011.
At St. Lawrence he coached a number of outstanding skiers and had several top finishes. His 1978 team was second at the SLU Carnival and tied Dartmouth for first at Norwich. During his SLU tenure he was the head alpine coach for the 1972 World University Games in Lake Placid and had three of his skiers participate in those games. He was also chief of equipment at the cross country venue during the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics and chief of competition for the Junior World Games in Lake Placid in 1990. Following his retirement from coaching, which also included a stint as men's tennis coach at St. Lawrence, he became a technical delegate for the Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association.
After leaving the coaching profession, he and his wife Mary Ann owned and operated Axtell's Sports in Canton. He kept his hand in coaching after retiring from the sporting goods business and was a volunteer assistant coach for the Saint Nordic program for several years. He remains very active and enjoys cross country skiing, golf and cycling.