Skiing spymasterPeter Lunn

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When Lunn was born in 1914, his father Arnold was famous for something few people did: he was a downhill skier. Lunn followed his father onto the slopes — before he turned 2 — and became so adept he was captain of the British ski team at the 1936 Olympics in Germany, the first to feature downhill skiing. During World War II, Lunn was in the British Secret Intelligence Service, put on loan to the MI6 agency as a spymaster (he supervised agents). He hated that work not because it was dangerous, but because he was stationed in Malta, where there was no snow. He later transferred to Italy and, after the war, West Germany, London, and other posts, staying with the profession for 30 years.

While stationed in Vienna, he discovered that telephone cables linking Russian Army field units to their Moscow headquarters went under the British sector, and built a tunnel to the cables so they could be tapped, leading to a constant flow of information for several years. But skiing was his life. “He seized every opportunity to ski,” said his son, Stephen. “We had four weeks in Murren every Christmas. He skied every day from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, and he was furious if he went a day without a big fall, because that meant he wasn’t trying hard enough.” After a car crash, Lunn was told he’d never ski again. “We’ll see about that,” he said, and he went back to the slopes. He even went back to skiing after he broke his hip at 90. And in 2008, he was made an honorary member of the Alpine Ski Club on its 100th anniversary; Lunn’s father started the club. Lunn died November 30 at 97.

From This is True for 4 December 2011