Jean Vuarnet: Skier who pioneered tuck position dies aged 83

Story highlights

  • Jean Vuarnet won Olympic gold in 1960
  • Used metal skis, developed "tuck" technique
  • Frenchman gave name to sunglasses brand

(CNN)You might not have heard of Jean Vuarnet, but if you've ever been skiing the chances are you have participated in his legacy.

It may seem almost instinctive for skiers nowadays to adopt the "tuck" position when speeding downhill, but Vuarnet, who died Monday aged 83, helped pioneer the technique more than five decades ago.
The Frenchman won gold at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California, where he adopted the egg-shaped "tuck" position that is used widely in all forms of skiing today. Vuarnet bent his knees and back to adopt a faster, aerodynamic squat that helped propel him to victory.
But that wasn't all: Vuarnet also became the first man to win gold on metal, rather than wooden skis.
Skiing's 96-year-old genius inventor
alpine edge klaus obermeyer pkg_00023825

    JUST WATCHED

    Skiing's 96-year-old genius inventor

MUST WATCH

Skiing's 96-year-old genius inventor 02:48
The streamline stance later became known as "l'oeuf," the French word for an egg. A glass statue of Vuarnet cast in this iconic position was unveiled in the Alpine town of Morzine, Southern France in 2010, on the 50th anniversary of his gold medal win.
The skiing legend also won bronze in the 1958 downhill world championships in Salzburg, Austria. He had a stint coaching the Italian team from 1968 to 1972, after which he became vice president of the French Ski Federation.
A keen entrepreneur, Vuarnet also gave his name to the sunglasses brand that has been marketed worldwide and also helped develop the French skiing village of Avoriaz that opened to 1964.
Avoriaz forms part of the Portes du Soleil area, a popular ski resort in the French Alps where Vuarnet grew up as a child.
In 1995, he suffered the tragic deaths of his wife and youngest son, who were killed as part of a ritual murder-suicide involving members of the Order of the Solar Temple cult.