James Blunt

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The 34-year-old English pop singer is best known for “You’re Beautiful,” a sugary 2005 soft-rock hit that induces swoons in young women and cringes in males of all ages. What we never suspected of Blunt:He’s a big-mountain skier and ex–British recon agent who lives part-time in Verbier, Switzerland. JACK SHAW met up with him in the Alps.

OUTSIDE: Why Verbier?
BLUNT:I came here for four seasons with the military, to race. We did proper Olympic downhills, and since I’d skied so much beforehand, I was at a higher level than a lot of the other soldiers.

Does skiing influence your music?
I write songs about the ups and downs—the ecstatic moments like standing on top of a mountain and looking at the view, or going skiing with a group of your mates. I mean, that’s inspiration for a song.

How does “singer-skier” play with the ladies?
There was an article written last year about how all the girls here in Verbier have T-shirts that read, JAMES BLUNT TOOK MY VIRGINITY. Which just isn’t true.