On Saturday February 25, 2012 a living skier pioneer celebrates his 100th birthday. French ski pioneer Émile Allais was born in Megève in the French Alps and is still active skier.
In his 100 years, Émile Allais has been a World Champion ski racer, coach, ski technique developer and contributor to the ski industry.
Dans ses 100 ans, Émile Allais a été champion du monde ski, entraineur, créateur d’une technique de ski et a contribué dans l’industrie du ski.
His parents held a bakery in Mégève before skiing was common in this French Alps village. Working as a teenager a hotel, an Austrian ski instructor thought him how to ski in which he quickly excelled. Allais did his military service in the French Mountain Troops in 1933.
In the mid 1930s he started racing in important competitions. Triple World Champion in Chamonix in 1937, he also won gold and two silvers at the World Championship the following year in Engelberg, Switzerland. Between 1935 and 1938, Allais would podium 8 times at the World Championships and win a bronze medal at the 1936 Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Other notable victories include the 1936 Arlberg-Kandahar races in St.Anton, Austria and in 1937 in Murren, Switzerland.
In 1937 he co-wrote the first book on the French Ski Technique which would at the time rivaled the Austrian’s Arlberg technique and became the first official ski instructor from the newly formed École Nationale du Ski Français.
He was called to service for the Mountain Troops in the Second World War, after the war he became training new instructors. He also traveled to North and South America where he participated in creating internationally known ski resorts like Sun Valley, Squaw Valley, Portillo and La Parva (Chile), Bariloche (Argentina), Sierra Nevada (Spain) etc.
He not only coached the French ski team, but also the Canadian Olympic Team in 1948 and the U.S. Olympic Team in 1952. He returned to France and landed in Courchevel where one of the couloir is named after him. He would also create the French equivalent of the Ski Patrol. In ski innovation, he helped Rossignol create the first non-wood skis.
He was as technical adviser in the creation of the French modern ski resorts of the 1960s like La Plagne, Flaine and Les Menuires.
As noted above, his contribution to French and international skiing has been significant. For this contribution, he was elected on the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1999.
École de ski Émile Allais au Mont Dore
Portrait d’Émile Allais par TV8 Mont Blanc (in French). The piece on Émile Allais are the first 2 minutes of this video:
Documentary from France 3 Lyon : Emile Allais, la légende du ski (27 minutes). First 2:30 minutes sneak preview available for viewing. The entire documentary is available with purchase.
Allais, la légende d’Émile website promoting his book
Émile Allais wikipedia page (in French) which contains more information.
Émile Allais wikipedia page (in English)