Speedskating - Country histories

A historical sketch of French speedskating
by Lars Finsen, with major contributions from Marnix Koolhaas

The sport of skating is not deep-rooted in France with her mild climate. But there was a golden age in the 1700s, when the solar activity reached a minimum, the so-called Maunder-minimum, and at the same time a powerful volcanic eruption also spread a layer of dust in the atmosphere and made the climate colder all over the Earth for several years, the so-called "little ice age" in the 1720s. Skating was especially popular on the lakes in the vicinity of Paris, a lake in the Boulogne forest still is known by the name Le laq pour patinage. The social elite did not despise this noble sport. It is known that Louis XVI and his queen Marie Antoinette were eager skaters, and Napoleon Bonaparte nearly drowned while skating on the ice of the moat at Fort Auxerre as a student in the military school there in 1791.

In the 1800s, the climate gradually became less severe, but still it was cold enough to permit skating in good winters, like the one in 1889, when the full length of Rue Pergolese was flooded for skating. But lack of ice was becoming a serious problem, and in October 1892, "Pole-Nord", one of the first artificial ice rinks in Europe, was built in Rue de Clichy. Pole-Nord became a popular meeting place, including some early indoor speedskating events.

In the 1900s, the lack of ice became ever more serious, but the climate was colder in the Alpine region, and there were lakes with more reliable ice in the vicinity of Chamonix. Out of Chamonix came Georges de Stoppani, who went to Davos for training and along with Philip Séon became the first Frenchmen to appear in championships at the European championship there in 1902. Stoppani skated some reasonable times in the short distances where he scored 5th places, but he failed to appear in the 10000 m. In 1903, the first French skating federation was formed, the Union des Fédérations Françaises des Sports de Glace (UFFSG) under the leadership of M. Berthelot, a collaboration of all organiseres of wintersport in France except skiing. They arranged the first French championships at Chamonix in 1908, with Charles Sabouret as the winner. Stoppani won the 1911 event. In 1909, races were arranged for women over 500 and 2000 m, won by mademoiselle M. Naudin.

In 1908 another independent federation was formed, the Fédération Française des Sports d'Hiver, who took over the organisation of figure skating, ice dancing, speedskating, bobsleigh, curling and ice hockey. They were again in 1920 replaced by Union des Fédérations Françaises de Sports d'Hiver, a collaboration of three new federations for skating, ice hockey and bobsleigh/toboggan respectively.

Léonard or Léon Quaglia is the soul of French skating. He tied for the 1913 championship with Adrian Maucourt, and won his last one in 1948, his 16th French championship. At the home Olympics 1924 he reached a good international level, finishing 9th in the 5000 m at 9.08.6, 7th in the 10000 m at 18.25.0 and 6th overall, the first and for a long time the only French inofficial Olympic point in speedskating. He also participated in the 1928 St. Moritz games, at a somewhat lower level, but never in an ISU championship. Léon Quaglia still has a good name with French sport historians. He set a world record in the hour race in 1928, skating 32970 m, and later, hour races have been quite popular among French skaters. Several of them have been skated on French rinks, and Elisabeth Vadot set the first records for women at Grenoble in 1972.

The 1924 games were good for French speedskating because they lead to the building of the Stade de Mont Blanc in Chamonix, the first land-based 400 m rink in the country. In these games, skating, figure skating and nordic skiing were the main events, alpine skiing wasn't quite invented yet. Albert Hassler was another skater who reached a reasonable level, finishing 9th at the European championship in St. Moritz 1925, not so far behind the others, and if he hadn't skipped the 10000 m, he could have done even better at home in Chamonix the next year, the first championship on French ice, when he won the bronze in the 500 m, the first French medal, although few good skaters had made the trip down to the French Alps. As the 20s yielded to the 30s, alpine skiing took over from skating as the main attraction for sportive French men and women. The level of French skaters declined, and they were rarely seen in the international championships. Marcel Lesguillons, who managed to beat Quaglia in the French championship 1935 and 36, tried to qualify for the 1936 olympic games, but stayed home when he finished among the last at the Davos world championship. He specialised in the sprint, and at the European championship the following year, he improved the French record to 46.9.

In 1941, the country was suffering her worst crisis since the 5th century, and now also the Union des Fédérations Françaises de Sports d'Hiver came to be replaced. Two sport leaders, Georges Guérard og Jacques Lacarrière demanded official recognition of a new federation: the Fédération Française des Sports de Glace (FFSG), which exists to this day. The recognition was given on November 4th, 1942, one of the last acts of the Vichy regime, one day after Alamein and just 4 days before the invasion of North Africa which lead to its fall. Guérard held the position of president of the federation until 1961. Of his successors it's worth mentioning that Jacques Favart, the later ISU president, was the president of the federation 1968-69 and the former speedskater Jean-Claude Heckly 1972-80.

Little was heard from French skating during the first few post-war winters, and the second St. Moritz games again were held without them. But inspired by the games a couple of skaters appeared, and one of them, Pierre Potonnié, brought the 5000 m record down to 8.53.1 at the Davos European championship 1949 and later skated the 1500 m in 2.29.7. Then silence sets in again, and for a couple of years, there is no French championship. But in 1954, the French champion is Raymond Gilloz. He appears at the European championship in Davos where he sets French records in the shorter distances with 46.3 and 2.24.1, finishing among the upper 30 of the 43 participants in all distances. Here was apparently a talent, and possibly a prospect for the 1956 games in neighbouring Italy. Gilloz had a disappointing European championship in Falun next year, and was never sent to Moscow, but in Cortina, where France was represented olympically for the first time since 1928, he raised the level French skating substantially with the new records 43.2, 2.17.7, and 8.32.5.

The destiny of French speedskating is closely connected to the European championships, but Gilloz came to the Östersund worlds in 1957 after an unsucessful European and had a semi-breakthrough with a 10th place in the 500 m and a 21st in the 5000, but only 3.6 seconds behind a time that would have qualified him for the 10000 m. Next year his progress was evident. At the European championship in Eskilstuna, he only would have needed 4/10 of a second more to qualify for the 10k, and in the Helsinki world championship, his final breakthrough came with the series 46.3 (19th) 8.43.0 (12th) 2.23.0 (13th), and 17.56.0 (15th) and a 13th place overall. He followed this up with another 13th place in the Gothenburg European championship 1959, but did not succeed at the Bislett world championship.

However, Gilloz had become a respected skater, and French skating was moving forward. For the Olympic season, they had found a female contestant, Francoise Lucas, and another talent in the men's class, André Kouprianoff, born October 19th, 1939, a winter child and the son of Russian immigrants, who turned out to be the big sensation of the Olympic season. In the dripping wet European championship at Bislett, neither he nor Gilloz managed to qualify for the 10000 m, but the 7th place of the latter in the 500 m was the best French distance achievement since the bronze of Hassler in 1926. Next week, Lucas as the first female French skater participated in the world championship. Then came the men's world championship in Davos, when Kouprianoff and Gilloz finished 7th and 11th in the 500 m, and the former ended up among the very best in the 5000 m and sensationally only had Stenin and Grishin ahead of him overall after the first day. He held this position after an excellent 1500 m where he won the bronze in 2.13.5, and Gilloz followed up with a 9th place after a bad 5000 m. And when the #2 overall, Grishn, pulled out of the 10000 m, his lead over the others was sufficient for an overall silver after a reasonable 10k, the first French overall medal.

All 3 were sent to the games in OL i Squaw Valley, where Lucas finished in respectable positions from 13th to 17th in good times, but the men disappointed a little with 8th and 9th places for Kouprianoff in the 1500 and 5000 m and two 10ths for Gilloz in the same distances as the best. Not quite equalling Quaglia's achievements from '24.

Gilloz quit skating after the Olympic season, but Kouprianoff established himself as one of the world top skaters. Typical for him was his equal ability over all the distances, a skater type that didn't become fashionable until some 8 or so seasons later. He had a slim build and an efficient technique, and his natural quickness in combination with a lower oxygen demand from his slimmer muscles made him the perfect allrounder. Many people thought he looked like an intellectual with his glasses and his less heavy build than the average skater, and a number of myths about him circulated in the skating fraternity and elsewhere. Was he some dissident author on the run from the KGB? Some saw in him evidence of the victory of mind over matter, others the proof of the poor level of speedskating, where some spectacled bookworm could jump right out of the sofa and mingle with the world top elite. Any way you see it, he's the greatest French skater ever.

The European championship in Helsinki 1961 didn't start out so great for him with a 6th and an 8th place in the first 2 distances, but he was 5th overall, not far from medal level. And when he won the 1500 m in grand style, he secured the bronze behind Kosichkin and van der Grifft, but well ahead of Ivar Nilsson after a strong 10000 m where he finished 4th. This was the first French distance win in a championship. And the destiny of French skating would prove also to be closely connected with the 1500 m. In the Gothenburg world championship, he won the bronze in the 5000 m, mainly because some of his opponents were strongly influenced by the weather. But it gave him a lead overall after the 1st day for the first time. However, this time, the 1500 m didn't go so well, and although the 10k still was good, it wasn't good enough for a medal, only a 4th place. In the European championship at Bislett the following year, his form was still excellent, and he won the bronze both in the 500 and the 5000 m and again held the lead after the 1st day along with Stenin. Now the time had come! But in the 1500 m the day after, the tactical hard opening of Stenin took him by surprise, and later both van der Grifft and Merkulov achieved better times. Now, he lay 3rd, but still was in for a chance. Stenin and Merkulov ahead of him weren't the most feared 10k skaters. And sure enough, Stenin managed only 17.25 in the first pair. But Merkulov followed the favourite Johannesen like a shadow in the 3rd and finished in 17.01.4. Now, Kouprianoff had to skate 16.59.6, only 1.7 seconds behind the famous Norwegian, who was to eventually win the distance. And he seemed to resign for silver. He passed the halfway mark in 8.34-8.35. The 2nd half went faster as was his habit, and he also had the energy to finish with a 39 lap, in 17.05.1, only 5.4 seconds too late.

Now, the Moscow world championship was coming up, and a trip to the country his parents had fled from before he was born. But this championship was a disappointment after his good 500 m, where he came 4th. In the 5000 m, he met a Chinese, was beaten by him, and only finished 9th, and another Chinese beat him in the 1500, where he finished as low as 19th. In the 10000 m, he met and was beaten by an Englishman on top of it all, and overall, he was only 8th. This championship with 48 participants was rather long-drawn; the 5000 m wasn't finished until after midnight. Kouprianoff lost his interest in skating. Maybe this Moscow championship had been a particular goal for him as well. He failed to turn up at the trainings. Now he really was going to conquer the world from the reading-room. But the results from the European championship in Gothenburg were not promising, and no French male skaters were sent to the world championship in Karuizawa. Matter had prevailed over mind. They whipped him around the training ovals some time still before the Olympic season, and he churned out a useful 500 m in the European championship at Bislett, but in the games finished below 20th in all his distances.

Then he vanished from skating, but turned up again like a jack in the box when the French were given the European championship 1973, did some training and actually was the best French skater in the championship because the French champion Tourne skated with a fever. The times were poor, however. Before the 1992 olympics, he had done the necessary courses to become an international starter, and started some of the races in the games. He also started one championship later, but no more as yet.

The only French skater to be sent to Karuizawa was Francoise Lucas, and she did her stuff well, finishing 15th overall in good times and tied for 14th in the 1500 m as her best achievement, the first French woman to complete an overall championship. In the olympic games 1964 she finished higher than Kouprianoff, but her best was an 18th place in the 500 m, and when the games were over, she quit skating altogether.

The best French skater the following years was the sprinter Raymond Fonvieille, who finished 10th in the 500 m at the Innsbruck olympic games. He's the first to beat one of Kouprianoff's French records, and made notable performances in the sprint at the allround championships in 1966 and 1967, but didn't participate in the 1968 olympic games at his home rink. He made a minor comeback in 1972, when he lowered the French record to 40.9 in Grenoble, but did not get any international assignments.

French results the first years after Kouprianoff were poor, but the Grenoble Olympic games necessitated the building of an artificial ice rink, the organisers put their minds together and in the fall of 1966 presented the most impressive skating arena in the world until then, Parc Paul Mistral in Grenoble. Now, they had facilities, what about skaters? Alpine skiing was going through a golden age with Perillat, Famose, Goitschel and especially Jean Claude Killy as the sport hero supreme in the Olympic hosting country, and the popularity of skating seriously diminished. But some resources were allotted, and some skaters were selected for a training group. Names like Perrenoud, Thepenier and Rumpler recurred along the bottom of the results lists from the international championships. Michel Thepenier beat two of Kouprianoff's French records in 1966 when he skated 4.44.4 and 8.00.5. But the best of this generation of skaters was Martine Ivangine, who made her debut in the 1966 world championship and broke through the year after in Deventer, where she had a 10th and a shared 14th place and was 12th after day one, but faded on day 2 and ended 16th. Next year in Helsinki, she climbed to a magic 12th, with a 9th in the 1000 m as her best achievement, and the Olympics were reasonably good for her, with a tied 14th in the 1500 m as her highest position. Sharing 14th places in the 1500 m seems to be something of a specialty for French women at this stage.

The Olympic speedskating was a big success with good and fair conditions mostly, Olympic records in all distances except the two 500 meters, and a world record in the 5000 m by Maier despite the altitude of only 226 meters above the sea level. Inspired by the success of Ivangine, the French decided to apply for the women's world championship 1969, but this didn't make Ivangine change her mind about quitting as promptly as Lucas, and the three French participants were fighting for the lowermost positions. Still, the championship was a successful event, the conditions were good and fair, all the championship records fell and a world record of 4.52.0 was set by Ans Schut in the 3000 m.

Richard Tourne from Paris was the one to carry French speedskating on his shoulders the following years, the first since Quaglia to win 7 French championships in a row. He was a faithful participant internationally, but never achieved any really extraordinary results. French skating also now suffered from diminishing budgets, and some championships had to do without Frenchmen. Tourne was the first French skater to go under 8 minutes in the 5000 m when he skated 7.59.0 in 1971. He did well enough the following season to be selected for the Sapporo games, where he achieved a sub-17 time in the 10000 m. The European championship on his home rink Grenoble was intended to be a highlight of his career, but he developed a fever, skated the 5000 m in 9.23.69 and pulled out of the 2nd day. The organisers also had to swallow the disappointment of losing the world best skaters, with speedskating now under the curse of the pro league. Both the men's championships that year also were seriously affected by poor weather. In Grenoble, they had a strong hail shower during the 500 m, which ruined the championship for some of the skaters and produced a strange 500 m result list. But the next day, the conditions were excellent as usual.

Before the olympic season 1976, the French had hired the Norwegian coach Hans Næss, who made Tourne specialise for the sprint. He didn't fulfil this capacity in the games, but at the world championship in Heerenveen, he impressed with 40.51 and a 10th place. By now, the artificial ice was beginning to produce some skaters, and Næss found a nice sprinting talent in Emmanuel Michon from Chamonix, who skated 40.94 in 1975, and already next year he pushed the French record below 40 seconds for the first time. For quite a few years, he finished among the top 20 in the sprint championships and qualified his country for 2 man quotas. But when the sprint world championship was to be arranged on his home rink Grenoble, he lost this highlight of his career by being sick, only skating the first 500 m where he was 32nd. Being sick at your career peak event seems to be typical for the fates of French speedskaters. His finest achievements came in the 1000 m, where he was 14th with 1.18,71 in Inzell 1979 and 13th with 1.22,80 in West Allis 1980. This 1981 Grenoble championship like the others was a successful affair with fair and very good conditions both days, including championship records in all the women's events, but only in the 500 m for men in the absence of Heiden. This 500 m time, 37.88 by Frode Rønning, also was a lowland world record.

The same good conditions prevailed also for the junior world championships in Grenoble 1979. This was the first junior championship after Eric Heiden's junior years, and the only championship record as well as junior world record was 7.21.10 by Yasuhiro Shimizu, beating Maier's 11 year old rink record. But Eric's little sister Beth was present in the women's class, and she skated junior world records in all the distances as well as overall points: 43.23, 2.13.75, 1.26.47, 4.40.35 and 177.773.

Michon was the only French skater in those years to make any impact on the international scene. But a number of other skaters appeared as well with good talent, but without the resources to join the top elite. Olivier Belle was the one to take over the allround from Tourne, and in 1978 skated the 10000 m in 15.57.6 as the first French skater below 16, also beating the last remaining Kouprianoff record. But he was anonymous in the championships. Marc Vernier from Grenoble was fast, and skated comparatively good 500 meters at the allround championships 1984, his best year, even finishing 21st overall after 3 distances in the European championship to secure the 2nd Frenchman a place in group 2 the next year.

But the most important of them was Marie-France Vives, who finished 14th in the junior world championship 1977 and 21st in the sprint world championship 1978. In the late 70s, she met a Dutchman who was fed up with fighting his own federation. They fell for each other, and in 1980, she became Mrs. van Helden. From December 1981, Hans van Helden was a French citizen. He entered the world championship at Bislett and finished 15th. The same rank he achieved at the world championship in Assen, but his 5th place in the 5000 m showed some of his former capacity. At last France again for the first time since Kouprianoff had a skater to reckon with. Next year, he failed in the European championship, but at the Bislett worlds, he climbed to 14th place and finished 6th in the 1500 m, with the home skater Nyland as a fine scalp in his belt. He prepared well for the olympic season, and at the European championship in Larvik, he managed to win the 1500 m, the second French distance win in history, and finished 6th overall. He was then almost 36 years old, and there were grumblings about the level of speedskating when this 36 years old Frenchman beat the best skaters in the world. In Sarayevo, he skated every distance (with a better samalog points sum than the two others who did the same - Hadschieff and Young Ha Lee) and finished 4th in the 1500 m. At the world championship in Gothenburg, he qualified for the 10000 m on points despite a poor 5000 m and finished 10th overall.

Marie joined her husband in training and achieved respectable rankings in the mid-80s. At the Heerenveen European championship 1985, she qualified for the 5000 m and finished 15th overall. At the Sarayevo world championship, she climbed to 14th. In 1986, she finished 16th in the European champinship at Geithus and 14th at the worlds in den Haag. At the European championship in Groningen 1987, she was 12th with an 8th place in the 1500 m, but in the world championship, she didn't make the 5000 m. In the olympic season, she only had poor results, and later, she vanished from the lists. Her husband Hans preferred the Elfstedentochts in 1985 and 1987 and fared badly in the championships. In 1986, he was 14th with an 8th place in the 5000 m in the European championship at Bislett, and achieved the same rank at the world championship in Inzell. He finished his career at the olympic games in Calgary, where he skated all the distances again without achieving anything particularly remarkable, except maybe equalling his personal best in the 1500 m to the hundredth of a second, a former world record. In the world championship at Medeo, he finished a sensational 8th, much thanks to the variable conditions, and even won a bronze medal in the 10000 m only just above 7 weeks before his 40th birthday, the first French distance medal in the 10000 m.

But behind these two, not much was growing. Possibly, this foreigner meddling in their affairs had a negative influence on recruitment, and possibly also the loss of Hans Næss to Swedish speedskating in the early 80s was an important factor. Promising talents like Stéphanie Dumont from Fontenay and the exciting sprinter Claude Nicouleau from Franconville did not get the opportunities and means to develop into top skaters, and disappeared after the 1989 season with nothing remarkable on their score. Jean-Noel Fagot from Chamonix was a long distance specialist who beat the 15 minute limit as only the 2nd Frenchman ever, but was rarely seen internationally.

The Grenoble rink now also needed renovation, and they applied for means to repair it, but the olympic games 1992 had been awarded to the republic, so all the money went into building the rink in Albertville. It was opened in the fall of 1990, and Grenoble was closed the same year. Before the games, a coach was hired to train a bunch of young skaters, but the results were not impressive, the selection policy was severe, and in their home games, only Thierry Lamberton from Chamonix was allowed to participate. On top of this, it had been decided to dismantle the rink after the games. Some good forces tried to find another solution, but without success. In 1993, French championships were arranged in Chamonix, but with one exception, all years since then have passed without long track ovals in France.

Hence begins the lone heroic odyssey of Cédric Kuentz on the stormy oceans of international speedskating. With no rink, French speedskating naturally died out rather quickly - with a couple of exceptions. Kuentz is born on November 15th, 1973, a winter child, and he grew up in Grenoble. He won this last French championship 1993 and participated in the international championships the same year where he struggled to keep away from the nethermost positions. Along with the sprinter Pierre-Henri Konninckx, also from Grenoble, he received some funds to train for the Hamar olympics next year, but the results were poor and the selection policy as restrictive as ever, so the games went by without French participants for the first time since 1952.

But the year after, someone in the French federation did the clever trick of hiring the US sprint coach Peter Mueller, who happened to be available after the games. Mueller's not the kind to turn his back on a good challenge, and already the first year, some improvement was noticeable for Konninckx, Kuentz and the new sprinter Lionel Sodogas from Fontenay. Next year, Konninckx was gone, but Kuentz had a major breakthrough. He impressed at the European championship with a 10th place overall and a 4th place in the 1500 m, and he was promoted to group 1 in the world cup on the same distance following his group 2 win in Oslo. Unfortunately, the old tradition of the French federation for organising ice hockey as well now proved fatal as the hockey people had made some financial acrobatics that brought the federation to near bankruptcy. Mueller went unpaid the last part of the season, and after the season, the French speedskating team was dismantled.

However, Kuentz, Sodogas, and Cédric Michaud, a rollerskater who had joined them, were not the kind of guys to be baffled as easy as that. A much needed highlight next year was the opening of a rink in Chamonix again, although this too was only temporary. Kuentz still got some help from Mueller, now the Dutch sprint coach, and managed to hold on to his group 1 spot in the world cup, although his team couldn't afford to enter the whole series. With the Olympic season coming up, all funding of French speedskating was shut down, but Kuentz and Sodogas continued with support from a few local sponsors and some paid work, and under these conditions, at least Kuentz did sensationally well. He lost his group 1 spot in the first world cup, but regained it by winning group 2 in Hamar on his new klapskates. And at the European championship in Helsinki, he and Ritsma were way ahead of the rest in the 1500 m. He was beaten only by 24 hundredths and ended 12th overall after a cautious 10000 m. Now, the French committee just had to select him for the games, where he skated a reasonable 5000 m, but had his 1500 m ruined by a fever in the good French tradition.

Next year, some money was available again, and also, Michaud was back stronger than before, setting a French record in the 10000 m at Heerenveen. Kuentz again qualified for the 10000 m in the European championship, but dropped to 16th overall after another cautious 10000 m and failed to qualify for the world championship. He won a group 2 1000 m worldcup race in Roseville and qualified for both distances in the Heerenveen single distance world championship, where he finished 4th in the 1500 m. In 2000, Michaud had progressed further, he qualified for the single distance world championship and almost made the 10000 m in the European championship, when Kuentz failed due to a fall. Kuentz established himself in group 1 in the 1000 m and had a series of fine achievements in the 1500 m.

The 2001 season started good for Kuentz, who won his second distance medal with a bronze in the 1500 m at the European championship in Baselga, where he finished 8th, the best French achievement in a championship since 1984, and for the first time qualified for the world championship after the new rules. But after this 10000 m effort, he lost his form and did not achieve anything of note for the rest of the season and in the end also lost his group A spot in the world cup 1500 m. He never found his form again and in the Olympic season he had only a brief visit in group A of the world cup. Still he was selected for the games, but a 24th place in the 5000 m was his best. He quit after the season.

Lionel Sodogas, back in the pre-Olympic season from trying to make some living as a show skater with barrel jumping and all that, broke through to the 36 level in Calgary and participated in the first world cup in Seoul where he reached the qualifying time for the sprint world championship, but never was entered for the championship, nor for the following worldcups, despite travelling there for his own means. He was observed demonstrating before the ice hall in Heerenveen and stirred some international support. But his federation simply ignored him and despite reasonable times he was not selected for anything in 2002. He has not appeared in races since that season.

Michaud started the 2001 season better than ever with another French records in the 10000 m at 13.58.84, the first French skater to cross the 14 minute barrier. But the qualifying system still refused him a place in group A, and when he won a skate marathon just afterwards, he decided to quit the national team and go to marathon. Thus the 2003 season started with no active French speedskaters at all for the first time since in modern history. However, when his fellow marathoner Henk Angenent tried to qualify for the world single distance championship, he asked Michaud for pacing help, and on poor ice he surprisingly beat his French 10000 m record with 13.57.86, the only French result noted in 2003. In 2004 no French results were registered, but his good 10k started Michaud thinking about Torino, and after scoring a number of high rankings in the marathon, he has started preparing for the Olympic style again and recently (August 2004) threatened the 5000 m French record at the summer race in Calgary.

Thus, French speedskating isn't dead quite yet, but with no facilities, the flame flickers very low indeed. However as long as the French are active in short-track, inline, and marathon, we may yet see some Frenchmen on the speed ovals again.


French records:
Lionel Sodogas 36.28 Calgary 18 Nov 2000
Cédric Kuentz 1.10.75 Calgary 21 Feb 1999
Cédric Kuentz 1.47.82 Calgary 29 Jan 2000
Cédric Kuentz 3.52.32 Calgary 29 Jan 2002
Cédric Kuentz 6.35.05 Salt Lake City 9 Feb 2002
Cédric Michaud 13.57.86 Heerenveen 25 Feb 2003
Cédric Kuentz 144.065 Calgary 20-21 Feb 1999
Cédric Kuentz 154.102 Calgary 11-13 Aug 2000
Cédric Kuentz 158.911 Baselga di Piné 12-14 Jan 2001

Marie-France van Helden 42.49 Calgary 11 Feb 1988
Marie-France van Helden 1.25.7 Davos 5 Jan 1986
Stéphanie Dumont 2.11.01 Calgary 4 Dec 1987
Marie-France van Helden 4.32.34 Calgary 23 Feb 1988
Stéphanie Dumont 8.00.40 Calgary 28 Feb 1988
Marie-France van Helden 174.500 Karuizawa 22-23 Feb 1986
Marie-France van Helden 177.744 Inzell 13-14 Dec 1986
Marie-France van Helden 186.577 Geithus 11-12 Jan 1986

French distance winners in international championships:

1.André Kouprianoff 1 in the 1500 m at the European championship in Helsinki, 1961 (2.18.8)
2.Hans van Helden 1 in the 1500 m at the European championship in Larvik, 1984 (2.00.32)

Other medal winners:
1.Albert Hassler bronze in the 500 m, European championship, Chamonix, 1926
2.André Kouprianoff bronze in the 1500 m, world championship, Davos, 1960
3.André Kouprianoff overall silver, world championship, Davos, 1960
5.André Kouprianoff overall bronze, European championship, Helsinki 1961
6.André Kouprianoff bronze in the 5000 m, world championship, Gothenburg, 1961
7.André Kouprianoff bronze in the 500 m, European championship, Oslo, 1962
8.André Kouprianoff bronze in the 5000 m, European championship, Oslo, 1962
9.André Kouprianoff overall silver, European championship, Oslo, 1962
11.Hans van Helden bronze in the 10000 m, world championship, Medeo, 1988
12.Cédric Kuentz silver in the 1500 m, European championship, Helsinki, 1998
13.Cédric Kuentz bronze in the 1500 m, European championship, Baselga di Piné, 2001

French olympic top six achievements:







500 m men

1000 m men

1500 m men


5000 m men

10000 m men

Overall, men


Total, men



500 m women

1000 m women

1500 m women

3000 m women

5000 m women

Total, women




French top six scores in the olympic games:

1.Léon Quaglia 6th overall in Chamonix, 1924 (48.4-9.08.6-2.37.0-18.25.0)
2.Hans van Helden 4th in the 1500 m, Sarajevo, 1984 (1.59.39)

The most frequent participants in international senior championships and olympic games:

1.Cédric Kuentz 25 times
2.Hans van Helden 16
Marie-France Vives van Helden 16
4.Raymond Gilloz 12
André Kouprianoff 12
Richard Tourne 12
Marc Vernier 12
8.Emmanuel Michon 11
9.Michel Thepenier 8
10.Olivier Belle 7
11.Francoise Lucas 6
12.Bernard Sakhof 5
Stéphanie Dumont 5
Cédric Michaud 5
15.Raymond Fonvieille 4
Martine Ivangine 4
Francois Perrenoud 4
Sylvie Chevauchet 4
Thierry Lamberton 4
20.Albert Hassler 3
Pierre Potonniée 3
Ferdinand Carteaux 3
Jean-Jacques Rumpler 3
Michel Duchet 3
Marie-Louise Perrenoud 3
26.André Gegout 2
Léon Quaglia 2
Marcel Lesguillons 2
Charles Ribola 2
Jean Pou 2
Jean Noel Fagot 2
Claude Nicoleau 2
Pierre-Henri Konninckx 2
Lionel Sodogas 2
35.Georges de Stoppani 1
Philip Séon 1
Georges F de Wilde 1
Charles Thaon 1
Jean-Claude Heckly 1
Patricia Demartini 1
Tonny Monari 1
Anne Koszul 1
Michel Chabert 1