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Throwback: When Killy embraced pressure to deliver title treble at Grenoble Games

February 1968:  Jean-Claude Killy (right) shaking hands at the 1968 Winter Olympic games in Grenoble.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)|Jean-Claude Killy of France during the Slalom ski event at the X Olympic Winter Games on 17th February 1968 in Chamrousse, Grenoble, France. Killy won three gold medals during the competition in the downhill, slalom and giant slalom. (Photo by Getty Images)

February 17, 1968

French hopes for the Olympic Winter Games Grenoble 1968 were high when Jean-Claude Killy won 12 of 16 World Cup races during the 1966-67 season.

There was growing conjecture that a clean sweep of then three alpine skiing disciplines was on the cards.

His first Olympic foray at Innsbruck 1964 had gone far from smoothly, Killy battling with both dysentery and hepatitis, which he had contracted during military service in Algeria some two years earlier.

As a result, he failed to finish the downhill or slalom and, in his then favoured event the giant slalom, he could only finish fifth when a medal had been the aspiration.

But from there he gradually turned into the dominant force on the slopes, winning the overall World Cup titles in 1967 and 1968, and arriving in Grenoble in the form of his life in 1968.

Killy clinched victory by the narrowest of margins – eighth hundredths of a second – in the downhill, but enjoyed a more comfortable margin of victory in the giant slalom.

In the finale and with an expectant French public glued to his every move, he put himself in first place, waiting nervously at the bottom of the mountain with Karl Schranz, his closest rival, still to go.

It was a dramatic and controversial finish to the competition as Schranz stopped his run midway through claiming that someone had walked across this path.

As the officials conferred, he was given a second opportunity on the run, and duly finished on the foggy course in a quicker time than Killy only to be disqualified shortly afterwards for missing a gate.

The 1968 season proved to be Killy’s last, the Frenchman opting for retirement just a few months before his 25th birthday.

Off the slopes, he continued to play a key role in the Olympic Winter Games, acting as co-president in 1992 when they returned to France in Albertville, and has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1995.


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