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Emile Allais, 100, champion French skier

Emile Allais won gold in the 1937 world championships.Getty Images/Getty

NEW YORK — Emile Allais, a daring champion French skier who helped shape his sport by developing and popularizing a new style of skiing in the 1930s — keeping the skis parallel — as well as by coaching Olympic teams and designing ski equipment, died Wednesday in Sallanches, in the French Alps.

Jean-Claude Killy, the French skier who dominated the sport in the late 1960s, hailed Mr. Allais, 100, as ‘‘the father of modern skiing.’’

For all his many victories on the slopes, Mr. Allais failed in perhaps his final challenge: his bet that on his 100th birthday he would beat his cardiologist down Valle Blanche in Chamonix, one of the great Alps ski runs. He stopped skiing a few years ago.


In 1934, Mr. Allais became the first French skier to win a major event, placing first in the combined event — a downhill run and two slalom runs — at Hahnenkamm at Kitzbuehel.

In the 1937 world championships, he won gold medals in the downhill, slalom, and combined, becoming the first man to windownhill and slalom races in a major championship. That year and the next, he was the world’s all-around champion skier, the first man to hold the title in successive years.

His daring, almost reckless-seeming style was legend. He once did a somersault in an event and landed on his skis without losing time. The New York Times marveled at how he often seemed out of control before miraculously recovering.

His most far-reaching contribution to the sport came in the late 1930s, when he helped develop and popularize the new method of skiing with skis parallel to each other rather than angled inward in a V shape. The French Skiing Federation soon adopted that as its official style.

He spent considerable time in the United States, as the first ski school instructor at Squaw Valley in California and a teacher in Sun Valley, Idaho. Brigitte Bardot and Cary Grant were among his pupils.


Emile Allais was born in ­Megeve.