Legendary skier and fashion icon Jean Vuarnet passed away January 2, 2017. According to published reports, the cause of death was a stroke. He was 83.
While Vuarnet is known today mostly as a line of high-end sunglasses–and in particular defined the notion of cool in the 1980s–Vuarnet the man was just as influential as an athlete and skier. A seven-time French national ski champion, Vuarnet is credited for being the first skier to use the ‘tuck’ position, originally known as the ‘egg,’ which helped him win the gold medal in the downhill at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California. He was also the first to use metal skis—eschewing French-made Rossignols for American-made Head skis (the first to incorporate metal in its construction) in those 1960 Games. His victories there helped pave the way for new innovation in ski technology, which all skiers enjoy today.
A visionary, Vuarnet was also instrumental in the development of the Avoriaz ski resort in 1960 and the Porte du Soleil ski area that joined 12 ski resorts between France and Switzerland in 1964. He then became the technical director of the Italian ski team from 1968 to 1972, and vice-president of the French ski federation from 1972 to 1974.