Jean Vuarnet

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Medal record
Men's alpine skiing
Representing  France
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1960 Squaw Valley Downhill
World Championships
Bronze medal – third place 1958 Bad Gastein Downhill

Jean Vuarnet (18 January 1933 – 2 January 2017) was a ski racer from France. He was born in Le Bardo, Tunisia.


The high point of Vuarnet's career came at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, where he won the gold medal in the downhill.[1] Previously, he had won bronze in the same event at the 1958 World Ski Championships in Bad Gastein.[2] From 1957 to 1959, Vuarnet achieved seven titles as a French Skiing Champion: twice in the Downhill (1958, 1959) , Slalom (1597, 1958) and Alpine Combined, and in the Giant Slalom (1957). He had placed 3rd in the Slalom Race and the Alpine Combined in the "Kandahar" at Sestriere 1956.

He honed his revolutionary "egg position" (French: "dite de l'œuf") now known as The Tuck - a lower stance in which he squatted down with knees bent, arms outstretched and fists clasped together, in a bid to increase his speed. He also used metal skis (skis métalliques Rossignol), to win the gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics, as number 10.

After retiring from active competition, Vuarnet became Head of the Italian Alpine Skiing Team from 1968 to 1972, and vice-president of the French skiing association, a role in which he served from 1972 to 1974. [3] [4] He was a skiing innovator,[5] the first to use metal skis[6] and tuck position.[7]


In the early 1960s Jean Vuarnet was asked by his hometown of Morzine to help develop the skiing-area around the town. He did so by creating the purpose-build resort of Avoriaz, together with a group of young architects. Around Avoriaz he developed a new area for alpine skiing, later linked to other areas in France and Switzerland known as The Portes du Soleil.

Vuarnet also gave his name to the exclusive Vuarnet sunglasses - now owned by a U.K. private equity group, Neo Investment Partners.

Personal life[edit]

In 1958, he married Edith Bonlieu, a three-time French women's ski champion and sister of François Bonlieu.

His wife Édith and youngest son Patrick were among the members of the Order of the Solar Temple cult who committed suicide in 1994.[8]

Vuarnet died on 2 January 2017 at the age of 83.[9]


  1. ^ "Sport: Trial by Snow". Time. 7 March 1960. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2017-01-02. 
  2. ^ "Sailer Takes World Downhill Title on Record Run of 2 Minutes 28.5 Seconds; WERNER HAS SPILL IN MOVE FOR LEAD American Stumbles at Last Gate -- Sailer's Triumph Brings Over-All Title". The New York Times. 10 February 1958. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-01-02. 
  3. ^ (cit.: German and French Wikipedia), and Jean VUARNET - Olympic Alpine Skiing | …
  4. ^ "Jean Vuarnet". International Skiing History Association. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 2017-01-02. 
  5. ^ Sandomir, Richard (2017-01-03). "Jean Vuarnet, a Downhill Skiing Innovator, Dies at 83". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  6. ^ Press, Associated. "Jean Vuarnet dies at 83, Olympic champion was first to use metal skis and "The Tuck" position". Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  7. ^ CNN, George Ramsay, for. "Jean Vuarnet: Skiing pioneer dies aged 83". CNN. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  8. ^ Walsh, James (8 January 1996). "THE SUNBURST SACRIFICES". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2017-01-02. 
  9. ^ Castex, Lucrece (2 January 2017). "Ski - Disparition de Jean Vuarnet". (in French). Retrieved 2017-01-02. 

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