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Henri Oreiller

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 3
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameHenri Jean•Oreiller
Used nameHenri•Oreiller
Born5 December 1925 in Paris, Paris (FRA)
Died7 October 1962 in Paris, Paris (FRA)
AffiliationsCS Val d'Isère, Val-d'Isère (FRA)
NOC(s) France


Henri Oreiller was inspired to become a competitive skiier by following the exploits of James Couttet. During World War II, Oreiller joined the Section Eclairuers Skieurs, a specialist skiing section of the French Resistance. After the liberation of Paris he joined the regular Army and fought in an elite winter combat unit in the Alps during the last days of the war. After the war, he won the French slalom title in 1947 as a prelude to his starring role at the 1948 Winter Olympics. At St. Moritz Oreiller won three medals, including golds in the downhill and combined, along with a bronze in the slalom. He missed one of his medal ceremonies because he was playing accordion in a local bar, and only received that medal a week later. In Arlberg-Kandahar races Oreiller was second in the slalom in 1947 and 1950, both times at Mürren. He also won the Harriman Cup at Sun Valley, Idaho. Oreiller competed at the 1952 Winter Olympics, but with much less success and then retired from ski racing.

This enabled him to pursue his other passion, which was automobile racing. Over the next 10 years Oreiller raced cars all over Europe, winning the French touring category in 1959, the 1959 automobile Tour de France in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the Ralley Lyon-Charbonnières in 1961 (driving an Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ) and 1962 (in a Ferrari 250 GT), the 1962 Ralley de Lorraine in a Ferrari 250 GT, and the 1962 Ralley du Limousin, again in a Ferrari 250 GT. Tragically, in October 1962 Henri Oreiller died behind the wheel of his Ferrari during the Grand Prix de Paris, in a crash at the Linas-Montlhéry autodrome when his rear tire exploded and he crashed into a race marshall’s hut.


Games Discipline (Sport) Event Status Team Pos Details
1948 Winter Olympics Alpine Skiing (Skiing) Downhill, Men Olympic 1 Gold Representing France    
  Slalom, Men Olympic 3 Bronze
  Combined, Men Olympic 1 Gold
1952 Winter Olympics Alpine Skiing (Skiing) Downhill, Men Olympic =14 Representing France    
  Giant Slalom, Men Olympic 16

Special Notes