Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Georges Joubert, 1923-2010

Georges Joubert passed away on November 1st in his La Tronche retirement home, near Grenoble, France; he was 87 years old.

Skiing has always played an important role in my life and as I learned the sport and eventually became a French certified ski instructor, I always was deeply attracted by Joubert's research and analysis on ski technique. Compared to the official French skiing dogma that was then spread by the ENSA (École Nationale de Ski et d'Alpinisme,) his pragmatic approach was based on analytical observation (mostly of champions like Russel, Thoeni or Stenmark) and was based on functionality instead of just form. Everything in the French skiing orthodoxy was based on looking good and executing perfect ski maneuvers, while Joubert was attempting to understand what could work better and the profound reasons for emulating top skiers. I spent more time trying to understand his books than memorizing the “Memento” which was the name of the official ENSA's bible, and, in the process, gained an appreciable understanding of skiing; I also used the English and German versions of his books to learn certain specific ski terms and use them when I had foreign students.

Long before it became fashionable, this great ski theoretician discovered wide-stance skiing, modern mogul technique and brought carving to the mainstream. Joubert also developed methods for ski testing during his long association with a prominent French ski magazine. Socially, Georges Joubert was never known as Mr. Congeniality and was rather famous for butting heads with the French skiing establishment. As of his passing, he's unfortunately mostly remembered for leading the French ski team in the early 70's, along with Jean Vuarnet and firing its top athletes that didn't appreciate their iconoclastic approach. This said, Joubert will remain the unsung hero, but one of the strongest pillars of French skiing...

1 comment:

Kitzbuhel Skier said...

I skied with Grenoble University Ski Club for two years in the 1970's and Joubert came to coach at our ski camps in the Spring and Fall at Sarens. He was the most superb coach ever. Gruff and tough and the best of the best. I loved that man and have respected him ever since. What I learned from his teachings tnrough his coaches I still use today as his methods have never gone out of style. Bits and pieces of his style are still solid and I see them in my skiing in every run I make no matter what changes are made in today's skiing and skis. Bless him and may he rest in peace.