Geneva, Switzerland Nov. 23 (AP by Eric Bulman)–Serge Lang, one of the founders of the World Cup of ski racing, was remembered as a man of vision.
“He was a man of 10,000 ideas,” Gian-Franco Kasper, president of the International Ski Federation,said of Lang, who died Sunday at age 79 of a heart attack.
“We had thousands of fights, but that was typical with Serge,” Kasper said. “Serge had a new idea every two minutes. Some were realistic and great. Some were not.”
Lang’s most successful idea was the World Cup of skiing, an idea that took life during the World Alpine Championships in Portillo, Chile, in 1966. Lang hashed out the details with Bob Beattie, then a coach with the U.S. Ski Team and now a broadcaster, and French coach Honore Bonnet.
“He was such a huge visionary, particularly with things that would sell,” Beattie said. “He always wanted to have something going and he never had much time for himself.”
Lang, who ran the World Cup until he was replaced in 1986, died at his home in Sternerberg, France.
“It’s very sad for me and the sport,” Kasper said. “We worked very closely for 25 years, and it will leave a void.”
Lang, a journalist who once worked for the French daily L’Equipe and the Swiss tabloid Blick, was a passionate fan of skiing and cycling. He was planning to cover his 50th Tour de France next year.
Lang realized skiing had the same potential as cycling if given the same stage.
A large man with a booming voice and overwhelming presence, Lang opened new skiing markets from Russia to North America to Scandinavia. He ruled the World Cup committee for 13 years and his influence in skiing remained long after his retirement.
After taking the sport to unexpected heights, Lang was ousted from the World Cup committee’s presidency in 1986 by those unhappy with his authoritarian manner.
Lang was responsible for adding the super-G to the sport and also fought for improved safety and cash prizes for racers.
He authored Biorama, an annual book of biographies and World Cup statistics, and founded the Association of International Ski Journalists.
More recently, he developed the Legends circuit for veterans, which is still a struggling enterprise.
Lang, whose first wife, Ann, died in 1989, is survived by his second wife, Jocelyn, and a son, Patrick, press chief of the World Cup. No funeral is planned, but Patrick Lang said a private family memorial would be held next week. He said it was his father’s wish to have his ashes placed alongside his wife’s grave behind their home.
Copyright © 1999 The Associated Press