Three Gold Medals
At the 1968 Olympics, held in Grenoble, France, Killy lost all the wax on his skis during a warmup run for the downhill, and felt that he was sure to lose. Nevertheless, he leaped out of the start and took every possible risk to make his descent faster. He also knew that if he cut a sharp line near the finish, he could gain a couple of meters, but he had never practiced this move because he didn't want any of the other skiers to learn about it. As he sped down the mountain, his intervals became slower as the few remaining bits of wax on his skis wore off. His shortcut saved him, giving him a .08 of a second lead over the second-place winner, Guy Perillat of France.
Killy followed his gold medal in the downhill with gold medals in the giant slalom and the slalom. The slalom course was obscured by a dense fog, and Killy's win was somewhat controversial: two other skiers had a faster time, but it turned out that in the fog, they had both missed gates on the course. Arguments ensued, but in the end, Killy had the gold. He was only the second skier ever to win gold medals in all three events; the only other person who had accomplished this was Austrian Toni Sailer, in the 1956 Olympics.
After Killy's wins, he wanted to go home to Val d'Isere, and he asked the mayor there if he could have a job as a representative of the local office of tourism. The mayor said that the salary Killy wanted, $1,000 a month, was too high and there was no room for him. "Then," Killy told Johnson, "my life took care of itself."
Killy signed a contract with agent Mark McCormack of the International Management Group (IMG). Before signing, he warned McCormack that he hated traveling and meeting strangers at cocktail parties. By 1990, he told Johnson, he had visited 55 countries on hundreds of trips, and had met almost as many strangers as someone campaigning for the American presidency.
In addition to trying his skill as a car racer, Killy made commercials, became a professional ski racer in the United States, and made two television series. One, The Killy Style, was a thirteen-week series that showcased various ski resorts, and the other, The Killy Challenge, featured him racing against celebrities, who were all given handicaps. He was also sponsored by a champagne company, Moet Chandon, which paid him to be seen with a bottle of their champagne on his table everywhere he went.
In 1972, Killy made a movie, Snow Job, which Johnson described as "a stinker." Johnson also noted that a Time reviewer wrote, "Waxing romantic or working out plans for an elaborate robbery, Jean-Claude always manages to sound as if he were making a half-hearted pitch for Chap Stick." Killy, perhaps realizing that his acting talent was not equal to his skiing ability, stayed out of the movies from then on.
However, Killy did reap one benefit from his film experience: his costar, Daniele Gaubert, became his wife on November 2, 1973, in a private ceremony in Archamps, France. Killy adopted Gaubert's two children from an earlier marriage, Maria-Daniele and Rhadames, and the couple later had a daughter, Emilie.
Killy told Johnson, "She was the love of my life, the girl of my life for 20 years. I was going to retire with my
wife and live forever, well organized and with enough money, forever."
Killy left McCormack in 1977 and began a ski apparel company, Veleda S.A., in Paris. By 1987 it was making $35 million. With his father and brother, he also owned three ski shops in Val d'Isere.
- Jean-Claude Killy - Awards And Accomplishments
- Jean-Claude Killy - Chronology
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