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Arnold Lunn and the fight for Alpine

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20 February 1931 was a special day for FIS, as the first Alpine races under the aegis of the International Ski Federation took place in Mürren, Switzerland. They would go down in history as the first-ever Alpine world championships.

The road there was arduous, but one man was determined to travel it: Sir Arnold Lunn. Though the Briton had not invented downhill and slalom, it was he who pushed the racing character of these disciplines. Lunn, who had founded the Alpine Ski Club (1908), the Ladies Ski Club (1923) and the Kandahar Ski Club (1924), organised the British Ski Championships in Wengen in 1921, which also included a downhill race. A year later, J. A. Joannides won the first slalom race in Mürren, and further competitions followed, for example in Cortina and St. Anton.

Lunn had clear ideas about how the disciplines should develop: "The object of a turn is to get round a given obstacle losing as little speed as possible, therefore, a fast ugly turn is better than a slow pretty turn". While Lunn championed these new and exhilarating disciplines, there was great resistance from the Nordic countries. There, traditionalists sneered that where skiing was not deeply rooted, it could not be understood.

Nevertheless, after lengthy discussions at the FIS Congress in 1928 it was decided that downhill and slalom should be trialled for two years. In 1930, the "Peace of Oslo" was reached at the FIS Congress, legitimising ‘downhill only’. In 1931, as the first Alpine races overseen by FIS were held, Walter Prager from Switzerland and Esmé MacKinnon from Great Britain became the first world champions. Finally, after years of debate, Arnold Lunn’s Alpine dreams had come true.