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Esme Mackinnon

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Esme Mackinnon

Esme Mackinnon
Medal record
Competitor for  United Kingdom
Women’s Alpine skiing
World Championships
Gold 1931 Mürren Slalom
Gold 1931 Mürren Downhill

Esmé Mackinnon (2 December 1913 – 9 July 1999[1]), known as Muffie,[2] was a British alpine skier from Edinburgh, Scotland,[3] remembered as the first female FIS World Champion in both downhill and slalom. The editors of Ski magazine called Mackinnon and fellow British skier Audrey Sale-Barker "probably the first women who could really be called racers."[4] Sir Arnold Lunn wrote that she "had the most remarkable record of any lady racer."[5] In addition to her world championships, Mackinnon won the slalom and combined titles at the prestigious Arlberg-Kandahar races in March 1933, in Mürren, Switzerland.[5]

After her skiing success, she married one L. M. Murphy.[5]

1931 World Championships

At the age of 17, Mackinnon received two gold medals at the 1931 World Championships in Mürren, Switzerland, winning both the slalom and the downhill.[6] The races were held in deep, soft snow conditions that presented no problem for Mackinnon.[7]

Mackinnon also won a third, unofficial race at the 1931 Championships, from Grütschalp to Lauterbrunnen.[8] As Mackinnon approached the finish in Lauterbrunnen, she encountered a funeral procession passing by and stopped to wait. The timekeeper stopped the clock and then restarted it when she resumed her run. Some sources maintain that Mackinnon did this out of respect for the departed.[9][10] According to Lunn's first-hand account, though, Mackinnon stopped out of necessity:

An incident unique in ski-ing history occurred at the finish. The finishing posts had been placed just outside the Lauternrunnen station. Shortly before Miss Mackinnon appeared, a funeral procession emerged from the station and passed between Miss Mackinnon and the finishing posts. Miss Mackinnon naturally stopped, and her time was taken to the point where she stopped, and from the point where she stopped till she had passed through the finishing posts. She lost, of course, a few seconds for she had to start again on the level instead of being carried through the posts by her impetus. The Austrians put in a protest, alleging that the time that the funeral procession had taken to pass should be added to her time. This struck us as rather odd for the object of a race is surely to prove that you have skied faster than your rivals, and not that you are entitled to a prize as the result of the opportune intervention of a funeral procession. (p. 79)[5]

In any case, the Austrian protest was dismissed and Mackinnon was named the winner. Her final time was 10 minutes, 4.4 seconds.[11]


  1. ^ [1] (Retrieved on 16 January 2011)
  2. ^ [2] (Retrieved on 16 January 2011)
  3. ^ Ski DB (Retrieved on 1 January 2011)
  4. ^ Google Books John Henry Auran, America's Ski Book. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 383
  5. ^ a b c d Google Books Arnold Lunn, The Story of Ski-ing. London: Eyre & Spottiswood, 1952, p. 97/187/97/79
  6. ^ Official results for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships – (Retrieved on 20 November 2008)
  7. ^ Canadian Ski Museum Bernie Duthie, "Women Ski Racers of Europe." Canadian Ski Year Book 1939, p. 119
  8. ^ Google Books Arnold Lunn, Mountain Jubilee. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1943, p. 137
  9. ^ Google Books Nicholas Howe, "Alice Kiaer and Her Remarkable Red Stockings." Skiing Heritage, June 2006, p. 26
  10. ^ Ladies' Ski Club (Retrieved on 1 January 2011)
  11. ^ Inferno Mürren E. A. Sautter, F. Stäger & K. Huggler, "The Inferno Races, 1928-1993" (Retrieved on 1 January 2011)
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