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Lunn, Arnold

(1888—1974) skier and religious controversialist


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(1888–1974) Born in Madras, a skier and religious polemicist, the son of travel agent and medical missionary Sir Henry Simpson Lunn (1859–1939). The elder Lunn, terminating his ministerial career in 1895, developed a travel agency specializing in winter sports, opening up the Swiss Alps to the English public through bodies such as his Alpine Sport Limited, and the Hellenic Travellers' Club (the company was successful into the 20th century as Lunn Poly). The young Lunn attended Harrow Scool, and Balliol College, Oxford (1907–11), where he took no degree but, following his father's enthusiasms, founded the Oxford University mountaineering club and the Alpine Ski Club. He was also secretary of the Oxford Union and edited the university magazine The Isis.

Mürren, Switzerland, had been made accessible and developed by his father in 1910, and was the base for Arnold Lunn's skiing achievements and innovations. He invented the modern slalom in 1922 and went on to gain recognition for the sport, and for downhill racing, at international level—staging world championships at Mürren in 1931 and 1935—and in the 1936 Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Lunn had made adventurous skiing expeditions in the Alps, and a serious fall in Wales when climbing lost him three inches from one leg; this did not stop him becoming the first man to make a ski ascent of the Eiger in 1924. Lunn produced 23 books on mountaineering and skiing, and, echoing his father's dual interest, numerous further books on religious polemics. He himself converted from Methodism to Roman Catholicism in 1933. Lunn's combination of upper-class privilege and adventurism, blended with the international business initiatives of his father, created an influential early case of amateur sport working in tandem with the emerging, lucrative sport tourism market.

From A Dictionary of Sports Studies in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.



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