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Marc Hodler, longtime FIS president

President of FIS from 1951 to 1998

For almost the entire last half of the 20th Century, a quiet-spoken Swiss lawyer and lover of the sport, Marc Hodler served as international skiing’s leader. A multi-linguist who could make a compelling speech in at least eight languages, Hodler was the President of the International Ski Federation (FIS) which defines the rules and formats of alpine racing, nordic jumping and cross-country freestyle and snowboarding. His tenure of 47 years from 1951 to 1998 may be the longest in the history of any international sports organization. After he stepped down as FIS President, he continued as the Swiss-based organization’s honorary chairman.

Hodler died on October 18th, 2006, after suffering a stroke, aged 87. 500 hundred ski officials from around the world attended his funeral service, which took place on October 31 in the magnificent gothic Cathedral of Bern, from whose high tower can be seen the peaks of the Bernese Oberland where Hodler skied and raced as a young man. He is survived by his widow Anna Rose and by two sons, Beat and Martin.

Hodler took over the FIS in 1951, just after the World Alpine Ski Championships had been held in Aspen, a place he’d first visited in the 1930s. He became a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1963, establishing himself at the crossroads of skiing and the Winter Games, a pivotal position that he would hold for the next 40 years.

In 1966, Hodler gave the go-ahead for the creation of the World Cup of Alpine Skiing, a totally new way of measuring the performance of racers over the winter. Not long afterwards, he devised a way for racers to receive money for the time they spent in training – broken time payments -- a formula that eventually opened the door for professional athletes from other sports to compete in Olympics. His powerful influence within the IOC (he became a lifetime member) enabled him to pave the way for moguls and aerials to become medal sports, and to compel snowboard competitors to come under skiing’s governance. In connection with the Salt Lake City Olympics, he publicly exposed the famous corruption in choosing Winter Games sites that led the IOC to clean up its act. --John Fry

His son Beat Hodler told the New York Times that Marc Hodler died of complications of a recent stroke.

Hodler joined the International Olympic Committee in 1963, where he went head to head with chairman Avery Brundage over skiing's perceived professionalism. In 1972 Brundage barred champion Karl Schranz from the Sapporo games for accepting sponsorship money. Hodler argued that, for safety reasons, skiers need to train on snow on a schedule that denies them the opportunity of conventional full-time employment, and should therefore be accorded the right to "broken-time" payment. Eventually, after Brundage retired, Hodler's view prevailed.

Shortly after stepping down as head of FIS in 1998, Hodler widely publicized the practice of bribery of IOC officials in the selection of Olympic cities. The result was a reorganization of IOC, the expulsion of six delegates and the resignation of four more.

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