Skier Jean Vuarnet, who struck gold with tuck position, dies

FILE - A Saturday, Jan. 6, 1996 photo from files of Jean Vuarnet, center, former French ski champion and business tycoon accompanied by his sons Pierre, left, and Alain, right, at Morzine, France, during the funeral of his wife Edith and his son Patrick. Olympic skiing champion Jean Vuarnet, who helped pioneer the aerodynamic tuck position for downhill racers but suffered tragedy with the deaths of his wife and son in a doomsday cult murder-suicide, has died, the French Olympic Committee announced Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. He was 83. (AP Photo/Donald Stampfli, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PARIS (AP) — Olympic skiing champion Jean Vuarnet, who helped pioneer the aerodynamic tuck position for downhill racers but suffered tragedy with the deaths of his wife and son in a doomsday cult murder-suicide, has died, the French Olympic Committee announced Monday. He was 83.

Vuarnet died of a stroke, a statement by the committee said.

The Frenchman won Olympic gold in the downhill at the 1960 winter games in Squaw Valley, California. Rejecting wooden skis, he was the first skier to win an Olympic gold on metal skis.

He was also the only competitor in that race to use the speedier low tuck position, squatting down with knees bent.

Vuarnet later lent his name to a successful brand of eyewear and was involved in the development of the Avoriaz ski resort in the French Alps.

Born in the Tunisian capital of Tunis on Jan. 18, 1933, Vuarnet grew up in the Alpine Morzine region of France

In 1995, Vuarnet's wife, Edith, and their youngest son, Patrick, were among 16 people who died in a murder-suicide involving the Order of the Solar Temple doomsday group.

French police discovered the charred remains of 14 victims — arranged in a star formation — in a forest clearing near the Alpine city of Grenoble. Two other bodies were found nearby.

Investigators said police officer Jean-Pierre Lardanchet and Swiss architect Andre Friedli fatally shot the others, doused the bodies with gasoline and set them afire before killing themselves. Autopsies showed that most had taken sleep-inducing drugs.


Olympic skiing champion Jean Vuarnet dies aged 83

Vuarnet, who gave his name to a world-famous brand of sunglasses, won gold in the downhill event in the 1960 Winter Olympics in California.

He is credited with inventing an aerodynamic crouch for downhill skiing known as the "egg".
Vuarnet was also the first person to win the event using metal skis.

His aerodynamic ski position has been copied and perfected by generations of skiers, says the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris.

At that competition in California, Vuarnet also wore a new type of anti-glare sunglasses provided for the French team.
Following his win, he agreed a deal with the manufacturer of the glasses permitting them to use his name.

Vuarnet also won bronze in the downhill event in the 1958 World Championships.

He went on to help develop the Avoriaz ski resort, which opened in 1964 as part of the famed Portes du Soleil ski area that links 12 French and Swiss resorts in the Alps.

Vuarnet suffered a personal tragedy in 1995 when his wife and son were involved in ritual killings along with dozens of members of the Order of the Solar Temple cult.


Olympic downhill champion Jean Vuarnet dies

Grenoble (France) (AFP) - French skier Jean Vuarnet, the Olympic downhill gold medallist in 1960 who gave his name to an exclusive brand of sunglasses, has died at the age of 83, his family announced Monday.

Born on January 18, 1933, in Tunis, Vuarnet claimed gold in the US resort of Squaw Valley, becoming the first Olympic champion on metal skis.

He was also credited with developing the "egg" position racers adopt for a better aerodynamic profile.

Vuarnet, who won downhill bronze in the 1958 world championships, went on to help develop the Avoriaz ski resort, opened in 1964 as part of the famed "Portes du Soleil" ski area that links 12 French and Swiss resorts.

Later a coach to the Italian team and vice-president of the French federation, Vuarnet's life took a turn for the worse when his wife Edith and youngest son Patrick were among 16 members of the Order of the Solar Temple cult who committed suicide in 1995.

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