Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Jean Vuarnet, 1933-2016

This was the first champion that captured my imagination and he was a skier. A lot has been written about my countryman and local hero, Jean Vuarnet, and I only will add what in him touched me the most.

I particularly remember that after he won his gold medal in Squaw Valley, a big celebration was held in Morzine, in his honor. This ski town is located in the northern French Alps, just west of the Swiss border. I was then just twelve years old and had walked from my to home to the main Plaza where he was honored and given a brand new Renault Floride convertible.

Then, I got to know Jean and his wife Edith when the came to my summer hamlet of Les Lindarets, just below Avoriaz and were coveting a beautiful, original chalet, that his owner would never sell them.
In these days, Les Lindarets was already the tourist magnet that it has remained over the years and the place was always filthy after the passage of tourists, and he must have thought that I would be more receptive than the rest of my family in advising me to follow the method used at North American National Parks by placing garbage bins in strategic locations!

Later on, as I taught skiing in Avoriaz, the Vuarnets were the iconic family with their small boys, their modern ski shop, Jean's beloved cigar, their beautiful contemporary home where my ski school buddies and I celebrated Jean's 40th birthday (the year was 1973).

After I moved to the United States, in the late 70s, I saw Jean at the North Americans ski shows until about the mid nineties, when I moved away from marketing hardgoods.

Jean Vuarnet definitely fueled my love for skiing, my career in the industry and a winning spirit that I always tried to emulate. He passed away in Sallanches, France, on January 2.

No comments: