Jean Vuarnet dies at 83

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Legendary French skier Jean Vuarnet died Jan. 2, at the age of 83

Jean Vuarnet

Jean Vuarnet, legendary ski racer and entrepreneur. // Courtesy Vuarnet

Jean Vuarnet, the legendary French ski racer who pioneered an aerodynamic tuck called “the egg” and lent his name to a French sunglass company, died this week at the age of 83. He reportedly died from a stroke.

Vuarnet won the gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, in California, when he wore a pair of sunglasses with Skilynx mineral lenses that improved contrast and depth perception. The glasses were designed by optician Roger Pouilloux, who teamed up with Vuarnet after his gold medal to start the brand that has become a classic.

Along with crouching into “the egg,” Vuarnet’s 1960 win was also the first time an Olympic skier used metal skis. Now, incorporating metal components is a standard ski design technique.

In 1995, Vuarnet suffered personal tragedy when his wife, the former Edith Bonlieu who was also an Olympic skier, and their son Patrick were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide ritual by a doomsday cult, Order of the Solar Temple.

Vuarnet grew up in Morzine, France, where he became the head of the tourism department and helped develop the Avoriaz ski resort and the Porte du Soleil ski area encompassing 12 ski resorts in France and Switzerland.

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