Alpine Ski Racing’s Oldest Medallist Johan Clarey Retires At 42

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Johan Clarey
Johan Clarey retires aged 42. | Picture: Johan Clarey Instagram Page

French ski racer Johan Clarey, the oldest skier to podium at a FIS World Cup, the Winter Olympics, and the FIS World Championship, has retired at age 42. In a career that began in Lake Louise, Canada, in November 2003, Clarey competed in four Winter Olympics and six World Championships.

Last week’s FIS World Cup Finals marked his last competitive Downhill race, and the French skier finished in 12th, with Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr winning the event. For the race, Clarey wore a special helmet designed for him by his team and his sponsor Uvex, which featured depictions of some of the skier’s achievements, such as his recent podium in Kitzbühel, his tally of his 246 World Cup starts, as well as the number 161.9, which reflects his record speed in kilometers per hour (slightly over 100 miles per hour), which he set in 2013 in the Downhill in Wengen, Switzerland.

Aside from the aforementioned speed record, Johan Clarey holds several age-related records. Last year, when Clarey won Olympic Silver in Beijing in Downhill one-tenth of a second behind Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, he became the oldest Olympic Alpine skiing medalist. Previously that record was held by America’s Bode Miller, who was 36 when he tied for Bronze in Super-G at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The podium from the 2022 Olympic Downhill in Beijing; 1st – Beat Fuez (SUI), 2nd – Johan Clarey (FRA), 3rd – Matthias Mayer (AUT). Photo: Julian Finney / Getty Images.

The French ski racer also became the oldest World Championships medalist when he won Silver in the Super-G in Åre, Sweden, in 2019 at 39. This year, Clarey came second at the most famous annual Downhill race — the Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria — and became the oldest Alpine skier at 42 years and 13 days of age to make a World Cup podium — another number featured on the Uvex helmet. The previous record was held by Clarey himself at 41 and 40.

“I did everything late in my life since I was a young boy. That’s what my mother said, I take two times as long as others to do everything. Walking, speaking, so apparently for my sports career it’s quite the same,” the Frenchman said in an interview after his Olympic medal.

He may have considered retiring in 2017 when his friend and teammate David Poisson died in a training run in Canada, but Clarey pushed on and dedicated his Olympic Silver to his late friend in 2022. The French skier admits that he still thinks of David often. He was undoubtedly on Clarey’s mind on his last World Cup race in Soldeu, Andorra. 

“It was really emotional this morning at the start,” Clarey admits in an interview with FIS after the race, “I had a lot of good vibes from the athletes, and I almost cried a couple of times. But I focused and managed a good race. I’m happy with my 12th place. Now I am just a tourist.”

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