The tuck, it’s one of the most famous and simplest moves in all of skiing. And earlier this month, the man responsible for inventing it, Jean Vuarnet, passed away at the age of 83.
The Frenchman introduced it to the sport in 1960 during the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California. The New York Times noted in their article announcing his death that Vuarnet was not even his country’s favorite when he entered that competition.
But thanks to his interest in the aerodynamics of skiing, he realized that the tuck – bending one’s knees while keeping the back parallel to the slope with the rear end elevated – would increase his speed. The tuck soon became known by another moniker, l’ouef, the French word for egg.
Using this technique catapulted Vuarnet to the gold medal in downhill skiing. Vuarnet’s 1960 win also helped propel two additional changes to the sport. The first was metal skis which Vuarnet became the first to adopt. The second was anti-glare sunglasses which Vuarnet and his teammates used during the winter games.
Vuarnet’s other contributions to skiing included developing the Avoriaz ski resort in his hometown of Morzine, France. There a glass statue of the French skier was unveiled in 2010 – on the 50th anniversary of his Olympic victory – featuring Vuarnet in his famous tuck position.
While it may be easy to overlook the tuck, Steve Porino, a former downhill racer for the U.S. team, spoke to its importance upon Vuarnet’s passing: “The tuck seems so obvious and self-evident that we forget someone had to invent it. You cannot survive without the tuck in ski racing.”
Honor Vuarnet’s Legacy
This winter, we have one simple request for all our avid skiers: take some time to honor Vuarnet this winter by getting into the tuck position. Bend your knees and your back, and keep your rear end elevated. Vuarnet may be gone, but each of us can proudly carry on his legacy.
For those looking for the best in ski gear, check out our line of winter jackets which includes such name brands as Salty Crew, Volcom, Billabong and Reef. And throw in a pair of durable, rugged sunglasses, all featuring the best in polarized technology. Finally, consider a GoPro camera and accessories to capture those special downhill moments this winter.