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The fastest non-motorized person in the world

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23rd March, 2023. Seven years of waiting were about to come to an end for Simon Billy. The snow and weather conditions were perfect that day in Vars, the French Alps. Billy squeezed into his skintight overall, fitted spoilers to his lower legs, donned the aerodynamic helmet and wore 2.4 metre-long skis. In just six seconds he had accelerated to 200 km/h, and when he swings off on the flat, the top speed measurement shows 255.5 km/h - a new world record.

Billy’s run was the latest climax of a story that began in the 1930s with the first speed races, when the Austrian Gustav Lantschner set a speed of 105 km/h in St. Moritz. In 1978, American Steve McKinney became the first skier to break the 200 kilometre per hour barrier. Later, Simon Billy's father Philippe would break the world record at 243.902 kilometres per hour.

"It was always a dream of mine to set the world record," said Billy after the run. "It felt very easy. I was quite relaxed at the start and I knew this was my day." And all this after he crashed at 245 km/h in 2017, dislocated his elbow and suffered further injuries to his knee and ankle, requiring a year off before he was physically and mentally ready for a speed ski race again. But from catastrophe sprang triumph – and Simon Billy is now officially the fastest non-motorized person in the world.