Oxford’s Olympic hero

Downhill slalom pioneer Sir Arnold Lunn in action on the slopes

Sir Arnold Lunn pictured in later life

The 2014 Games are to begin in Sochi today

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

SLALOM skiing is not usually associated with Oxford, but the winter sport was the invention of an Oxford University graduate.

Sir Arnold Lunn, who was a student at Balliol College, created the popular Winter Olympics event, one of the sporting disciplines featuring in the Sochi Winter Olympics starting today.

During his time at the college, he was president of the Oxford Union, editor of student magazine Isis and founded Oxford University’s mountaineering club in 1909.

That club is still going today – with more than 200 members and countless expeditions under its belt.

Current secretary Marion Wyllie, 22, said the club has changed since its launch.

She said: “Mountaineering is no longer such a gentlemen’s sport and over the years we have done some big expeditions.

“But we are really proud of our heritage, even though it is sometimes easy to forget it. You start to think about it more the longer you have been in the club.

“Historical links like this are part of the Oxford experience and people here do still go off to do winter sports.”

Lunn was knighted in 1952 for “services to British Skiing and Anglo-Swiss relations” and was the leading English authority on skiing.

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The slalom event first appeared at the Winter Olympics in 1936 – the year Hitler’s Germany hosted both the winter and summer games.

Oxfordshire does not have any athletes in this year’s Winter Olympics in Russia but Noel Clarete, 33, from Headington, is at the Winter Olympics helping out behind the scenes. He was picked by his employer DHL Express, the official event logistics partner, to help kit out the Team GB athletes two weeks ago. Items he has transported to the games include five coffee machines, 22 Union Jack flags, 220 Team GB postcards and 50 teddy bears.

Mr Clarete was given a chance to meet the athletes and see behind the scenes at Team GB.

He said: “I never realised how hard people work behind the scenes. So much is happening to make sure everything is ready for the athletes.”

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