Henri Oreiller

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Henri Oreiller
— Alpine skier —
Disciplines Downhill, Giant Slalom,
Slalom, Combined
Club Val-d'Isère
Born (1925-12-05)5 December 1925
Paris, France
Died 7 October 1962(1962-10-07) (aged 36)
Paris, France
Retired 1952 (age 26)
Teams 2 – (1948, 1952)
Medals 3 (2 gold)
World Championships
Teams 3 – (1948, 1950, 1952)
    includes Olympics
Medals 3 (2 gold)

Henri Oreiller (December 5, 1925 – October 7, 1962) was an alpine ski racer and Olympic gold medalist from France. He won two gold medals and a bronze at the 1948 Winter Olympics, becoming the most successful athlete those Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Born in Paris, the son of Léon Oreiller, of Italian origin, and Marguerite Favre, from Savoie. His parents lived in Paris and frequented Val d'Isère for holidays. Oreiller was a member of the French Resistance during World War II

Nicknamed the "Parisian of Val d'Isère" or the "madman of downhill", he was the first Olympic downhill champion in 1948 at St. Moritz, with a record margin of four seconds over the runner-up. He also took the gold medal in the combined event, and the bronze medal in the special slalom. He competed in the 1950 World Championships at Aspen and finished fourth in the new event, the giant slalom. At the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Oreiller was 14th in the downhill and 16th in the giant slalom.

Obsessed with speed, Oreiller retired from ski racing in 1952 at age 26 to take up motor racing. Ten years later, he had a racing car accident which took his life on October 7, 1962. A tire blowout at 100 mph (160 km/h) caused his Ferrari to flip at the Linas-Montlhéry autodrome and he later died at Hôpital Cochin in Paris.[1] The Ferrari 250 GTO, in which he lost his life, sold at auction for a world record $38.1million (£22.85 million), in August 2014. [2] At his shrine at Val d'Isère, where he rests next to his wife, testimonies from around the world bear witness to his abilities.

Winter Olympics[edit]


  • Best result: 2nd place in slalom 1947 a Mürren and 1950 a Mürren .


  • Winner of the Harriman Cup in 1949 in Sun Valley in the U.S., in downhill, slalom, and combined.[3][4]
  • Champion of France in special slalom in 1947.

Motor racing[edit]

  • Champion of France in "touring" category in 1959.
  • Tour de France 1959, winner on points.
  • Lyon-Carbonniere Rallye in 1960 and 1961.


External links[edit]


This article incorporates information from the revision as of 2 Oct 2007 of the equivalent article on the French Wikipedia.