Oberhofen, Switzerland Nov. 22--Private funeral services will be heldfor Serge Lang, the sports columnist who co-founded the alpine skiingWorld Cup format which became a prototype for World Cups in all otherski sports plus snowboarding around the globe. Lang was 79 when he diedSunday of a heart attack at his home in Sternenberg, France, the InternationalSki Federation said.
The so-called "Grandfather of the World Cup" did not want any formalfuneral services, according to his only child, Patrick, press coordinatorfor the alpine World Cup. Attending the Chevy Truck Birds of Prey racesin Beaver Creek, Colo., Lang said his father would be remembered at aprivate burial service.
Lang's vision more than 30 years ago created what has become one themost visible sports series worldwide.
"Serge was a great visionary and showed what you can accomplish if youhave passion for something," said Bill Marolt, president and CEO of theU.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. "His legacy will live in the formof one of the world's greatest sporting programs."
Lang, whose wife died several years ago, was a longtime columnist forthe renowned French daily L'Equipe and other European newspapers, includingLaSuisse and Blick. He joined French ski coach Honore Bonnet and U.S.ski coach Bob Beattie in forming the World Cup from a loose collectionof premier ski races. The World Cup races began with the 1966-67 season.
Born in 1920, Lang turned to journalism in 1940. In 1963, he foundedthe International Ski Journalists Federation and served as its presidentuntil his death. He was chairman of the World Cup during 1973-86. Hislast public function came in late October during the Forum Alpinum presentation to journalists as the 1999-2000 World Cup season began in Tignes, France;in recent years, he was instrumental in helping craft the Legends of Skiingfor the FIS.
Lang, who planned to cover his 50th Tour de France bike race next summer,covered all Olympic Winter Games from 1948 through the Games of Lillehammerin 1994.
The World Cup has become one of the largest sporting events in the world,with ski competitions around the globe from October through March everyseason. Prize money has grown into the millions of dollars with televisionaudiences in the hundreds of millions. The alpine World Cup has been copiedwith World Cups created for cross country, freestyle, ski jumping, nordiccombined and disabled alpine and cross country skiing plus snowboarding.