Racer, coach, Rossignol exec, baker

Passing Date: 
Monday, October 8, 2018

Gérard Rubaud, the artisanal baker who helped steer Rossignol to a dominant position in ski racing and in the North American ski market, died October 8 following a long illness. He was 77 years old.

Born in Aix-les-Bains in Savoie, Rubaud dropped out of school at age 16 to ski full time. He took an early-morning job in a bakery that freed his days to train for ski racing. By his early ‘20s he was a successful coach. In 1964, at age 24, he was hired by Emile Allais to work in Rossignol’s race-ski atelier, providing tech support to French team racers. At the Portillo World Championships in 1966 Rubaud managed support for a French team including Jean-Claude Killy, Guy Perillat, Marielle Goitschel, and Annie Famose , who between them scored six gold medals

By the early ‘70s Rubaud managed all tech-support teams for Rossignol’s racers around the world. After Rossignol set up its own distribution facility, and then a ski factory, in Williston, Vermont, Rubaud was sent to the United States as sales manager and director of marketing for the North American market. The U.S. at the time contributed 40 percent of Rossignol’s worldwide sales. In 1979, Rubaud was named president of the North American division.

The winter of 1981-82 was a bleak one in the American ski business, with sky-high interest rates inflating the value of the dollar so that U.S. factories couldn’t export. Rossignol closed the Vermont factory and fired its top managers. Rubaud immediately launched Gérard’s Haute Cuisine in Fairfax, Vermont, creating fine meals from local ingredients and vacuum-sealing them for sale to top restaurants. He opened his own restaurant in Burlington. He was soon selling up to 4,000 meals a week, with 225 items on the menu.

And in 1994 he returned to baking. Soon his loaves were in high demand. He closed the vacuum-packing business and began baking full time. He made bread daily, with his own hands, using locally grown and milled ingredients and a wood-fired brick oven. He sold up to 200 loaves daily, all to local outlets, seven days a week, fifty weeks a year. He taught dozens of bakers his traditional method.

Rubaud suffered a stroke in March, 2004, but in a few months returned to baking until heart surgery earlier this year.

He is survived by daughters Christele Pinaud (husband Eric) of Thonon, Haute Savoie and Julie (wife Ulrika Schygulla) of Vergennes, Vermont; companion Maggie Sherman of Burlington and first wife Nane Doll-Peyron of Shelburne, Vermont; sisters Solange Couve of Valence and Françoise Rubaud of Lyon, France; three granddaughters; and his black lab Jojo. –Seth Masia

Memorial contributions in Rubaud’s name may be made to the nonprofit International Skiing History Association, P.O Box 1064, Manchester Center VT 05255.




Submitted by on

Many fond memories of Gerard over the years. First met him at the bottom of a practice course at a pro ski race at Mt. Snow. He was watching the Rossignol team training (and keeping others off the course), hatless, wearing rubber galoshes and a well-worn Burberry trench coat with a trademark Gauloise cigarette between his fingers. In later years we found each other across the manager/manufacturer negotiating table. One one occasion, he invited me to lunch with his then very young first daughter at the restaurant at the top of 666 Fifth Avenue. I asked whether he was nervous about the 666 part. His response: I thought you would like the view and be able to keep one eye on "the paper factory," this being his name for our IMG office a couple of blocks north. Years later, Gerard introduced me to an up and coming caterer and first time author, Martha Stewart. "I want you to meet Marta--think she's going places." Sad to hear of his passing. He was one of a kind and a great guy who was loyal to his friends and acquaintances throughout his storied and varied life.

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