Ulrich Luscher

Long time Far West Nordic member and Nordic ski racer, Ulrich Luscher died last week while hiking on a San Jacinto trail. He was found about half a mile from Wellmen’s Divide, a 9700 foot high vista. Ulrich was 81 years old.

Ulrich wast an inspiration to is all, Nordic racing into his 80’s, most recently  last month’s President Cup Race at Auburn Ski Club.

Read the Los Angeles Times article for more info.


Many of you have anecdotes about Ulrich to share, here are a few. Please add your comments and stories!

Ulrich was completely comfortable in the outdoors. Not too many years ago, while in his 70s, he was backcountry skiing near Castle Peak. As he was heading back at the end of the day, he realized that he had taken a wrong turn. Since it was starting to get dark he knew that he didn’t have time to retrace his route and make it back to the car. No problem. He just made a small shelter of pine boughs and paced around this area all night to keep warm. When daylight came he found the correct route and skied back to this car. He never told his wife, Joanne, about this because he didn’t want to worry her.

Some years ago, Ulrich was racing Echo to Kirkwood. His chief rival in his age group was Ron Ruby. They had actually been at MIT together, Ron doing his post-doc work, and Ulrich teaching after finishing his PhD there. Since the race was in two specific sections (uphill in rough terrain, downhill on groomed tracks), everyone always went up with skins, took the skins off at the top, and skied down on his/her skate skis. Ron had practiced all winter, taking the short race skins off his skis, throwing them in his jersey, thereby losing minimum time. During the race, at the top of the hill, Ron who was a bit behind Ulrich, grabbed the skins off his skis, and went after Ulrich. Ron near killed himself trying to catch Ulrich, which he could not do. The reason Ron could not catch Ulrich: Ulrich being a good Swiss had stopped at the top of the hill, stepped to the side of the trail, and carefully, neatly, rolled his skins. Ron had not seen Ulrich at the side of the trail, so Ron spent the rest of the day chasing a skier who was behind him. Vintage Ulrich.

This is a story Ulrich told us last Month in Austria: When he was about 14 years old, his Swiss school had a ski camp for the boys (meanwhile, he supposed, all the girls were sent to cooking classes). However, while skiing Ulrich broke a bone in his lower leg — not a serious break — and was in a cast for a short time. That very same week, his older brother broke his femur while skiing, and was in traction in the hospital for a very long time. Their father was so angry that he smashed all four of their wooden skis. This did not, however, keep those boys from resuming their skiing careers the next winter.