One of the true pioneers and legends in British ski racing has passed away. Konrad Bartelski remembers Stuart Fitzsimmons.
Stuart “Fitzi” Fitzsimmons was a legend in the British ski racing world and here the ex-racer, Konrad Bartelski, pays tribute to the man and his extraordinary life:
Konrad Bartelski with Fitzi 8 weeks ago – photo Konrad Bartelski
Fitzi was born on the 28th December 1956 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
It was on the plastic Dendix brushes of the dry slopes of Hillend, where he first learned to ski.
Thanks to the generous support of a local benefactor, Mike Kenneth, Stuart managed to progress his unbridled natural talent and to eventually ski on snow in the Cairngorm.
In the late 60’s Fitzi quickly became one of Scotland’s most talented and competitive ski racers and thereby paved the way for every aspiring future skier in the country; by being the first ever dry slope skier to compete at the highest level in the World Cup and in the 1976 Innsbruck Olympic Winter Games.
Always such a cheerful character, he was also hugely determined and I remember when he seriously damaged his back whilst downhill training in Haus in Ennstal, he just checked himself out of hospital, as he was so keen to get back on to his skis.
Nothing could quell his boundless enthusiasm.
Fitzi (far left)
When he retired from racing he continued to follow the World Cup circuit with a TV camera.
And again Fitzi was a pioneer in this field too.
Fitzi the cameraman
Way before the lightweight Go Pro style cameras were invented, Fitzi used to ski down the icy, fast and rough downhill courses with a huge, heavy camera in his hand and an even bigger Digi Beta recorder on his back.
Always superbly close to the action, the dramatic and innovative images that Fitzi captured, helped put Ski Sunday on the map.
More recently, whenever I was travelling and meeting old friends on the World Cup circuit, such as Ingemar Stenmark and Franz Klammer, they would always ask me “How’s Fitzi?”
His huge smile and happy face added a welcome sparkle to the World Cup circuit.
First thing this morning (Tuesday 12th November) I received the very sad news that Fitzi passed away last night.
The world has just lost one of the most memorable people and one who with I was fortunate enough to share such great times.
My sincere thanks to Fitzi for making us all smile and laugh so much.
Fitzi surrounded by his art 8 weeks ago – photo Konrad Bartelski
There has been some reaction to Fitzi’s passing on our Facebook page:
And one of our readers, Neil Walker, has sent us a video.
“A short background film Fitzi and I shot 12 years ago, it may be relevant to you post,” said Neil.
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