A Sporting Life: The Winter Style Heroes

Every winter I long for a snow storm so that I am stuck inside for at least two days with nothing to do but binge-watch movies (which, having a toddler around, would probably not happen anyway, but one can dream). However, the idea is that we usually get at least one heavy snow a winter, but this year we have barely seen a few snow flakes leaving but a very thin layer on the ground that was gone in two days. Snow-induced binge-watching movies aside, I truly miss seeing the city covered in white and the calmness of a snow day.

But at least we are one day away from the Winter Olympics, which brings its fair share of excitement. With that in mind, I thought we’d take a look at the winter style heroes – the men and women who have a heavy word to say when it comes to snow style, be it on the ski slopes or in the surroundings. It’s also a chance to bring back on the blog a series I am very fond of, A Sporting Life, which takes on the challenge to put together sports and style (not exactly natural bedfellows), and makes a plea for outdoor sports. Today’s installment may not necessarily be about professional sportsmen (as the previous entries), although it does include Jean-Claude Killy, but that doesn’t mean is any less about people who love winter sports, nature and the outdoors, and look cool (while staying warm) in winter no matter what.
A Sporting Life the winter style heroes

A Sporting Life the winter style heroes

A Sporting Life winter style heroes 

Long before Sundance was known for the film festival, it was simply known as Robert Redford’s family’s private ski area northeast of Provo. In the pictures below, taken in 1969, LIFE photographer John Dominis shows the actor/director and his children at home in the Wasatch mountains. Dominis spent a week with Redford at his homes in Utah and New York, chronicling the days and nights of an increasingly famous man, who despite that, wants to remain present for his family. The unobtrusive way of shooting did justice to Redford, who seems at his most unselfconscious and relaxed. The first image is proof enough of that. The records on the table, the copy of the children’s book Charlotte’s Web, the family dog on the couch in a cuddle with Redford’s daughter (don’t you love her tweed trousers and the father and son matching track pants?), and the whole family in turtlenecks are the best example for the coziest winter day at home. It looks like the good life, doesn’t it?

Where is that snow?
Robert Redford 1969

Robert Redford by John Dominis

Robert Redford by John Dominis

Robert Redford and his family at their home in Utah, 1969, photographed by John Dominis

You guys, you know I love the classics. But you must also know that I hate it when they make classic seem synonymous to vintage. Vintage is something stuck in the past (I am not a fan of that, style-wise or otherwise), whereas the classic lives on, is timeless, is as relevant now as it was decades ago. And I believe Grace Kelly heralds the ageless appeal of the classics better than anyone else in the following photos. There is not a single piece of clothing she sports that wouldn’t look cool if worn today. Furthermore, as you can see, there’s no need to forsake warmth for style on the slopes – every single ensemble would look as much in place in the city as it does on the mountains.
A Sporting Life the winter style heroes

The winter style heroes
Now, the Winter Olympics do start tomorrow, so let’s talk a little about one of the all-time greatest and most stylish athletes of winter sports, Jean-Claude Killy. One of the greatest skiers in history, if not the greatest, Killy swept the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble (subsequently dubbed the Killympics) by winning the whole three alpine events, Downhill, Giant Slalom and Slalom. He also dominated Alpine skiing in the mid-to-late ’60s and won 12 out of 16 World Cup races during the 1966-1967 season. When on the slopes, he wasn’t matched by any other competitor, in terms of style, skill and speed, says my father, my number one source when it comes to researching sports and sportsmen.

Killy wasn’t a game-changing hero just for his sport, but also for the flair in the way he dressed. If there is such a thing as classic slopestyle, then he is the man who had it. He looked good in form-fitting, geometrical patterned racing woollens, and he took a style rooted in function one step further and paved the terrain for après-ski and day-to-day wear, opting for rollneck cable-knit sweaters, shearling jackets, mirrored sunglasses and cool-looking knitted beanies. On a side note, he even starred in the 1972 movie “Snow Job” (photo below) as a ski instructor (naturally) and he insisted on doing his own stunts.

The French ski champion also remains one of the most important figures to Rolex, having been an ambassador for the brand for more than 40 years, and having a watch model named after him, the Rolex Dato-Compax Jean-Claude Killy. The watch brand has been associated with the quest for excellence in sport for almost a century. And understandably so. Sports transcend social, cultural, language and ideological barriers, and, quite like nothing else, unite people from all over the world under their common passion. Here is to a sporting life, fair play and the Olympic spirit!

A Sporting Life Jean Claude Kelly

A Sporting Life The winter style heroes

photos: 1,4-Clement Jolin for Mr. Porter / 2-Gwyneth Paltrow by Ditte Isager / 3-Alps & Meters Journal / 4,5,6-John Dominis | Robert Redford, Utah, / 7-Olycom | Grace Kelly with her daughter Caroline, Gstaad, 1960 / 8-Getty Images | Grace Kelly with her children, Caroline and Albert, Switzerland, 1962 / 9-photographer unknown (it could be Toni Frissel) | Grace Kelly, St. Moritz, 1962 / 10-Jean Claude Kelly and Danièle Gaubert in “Snow Job”, 1972 | Jacques Dejean/Sygma / 11-L’Officiel, December 1962 / 12-Jacques Henri Lartigue

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