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Jean-Claude Killy (born August 30, 1943, in Saint-Cloud, Hauts-de-Seinemarker, Francemarker) is a former champion alpine ski racer, who dominated the sport in the late 1960s. He was a triple Olympic champion, winning all three events at the 1968 Winter Olympics. He also won the first two World Cup titles (1967 & 1968).

Early life

Killy was born in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Parismarker, during the Nazi occupation of World War II, but was brought up in Val d'Is√®remarker in the Alps, where his family had relocated in 1945 following the war. His father, Robert, was a former fighter pilot for the Free French, and opened a ski shop in the Savoiemarker village, and would later operate a hotel. In 1950, his mother Madeline abandoned the family for another man, leaving Robert to raise Jean-Claude, age 7, his older sister (France), and their infant brother (Mic). Jean-Claude was sent to boarding school in Chambery, 80 miles (130 km) down the valley, but he despised being shut up in a classroom.

Early career

Killy turned his attention to skiing rather than school. His father allowed him to drop out at age 15, and he made the French national junior team a year later. As a young racer, Killy was fast, but did not usually complete his races, and the early 1960s were less than successful.

In December 1961, Killy won his first international race, a giant slalom. It was especially sweet because the event took place in his home village of Val-d'Isere and because he had started 39th, a position that should have been a severe disadvantage. Killy was 18.

The French coach picked Killy for the giant slalom in the 1962 World Championships in Chamonixmarker, Francemarker, 50 miles (80 km) away in the shadow of Mont Blancmarker. It would be, he felt, a great French debut for this teenager. But Killy, who didn't know he had been selected, was still attempting to qualify for the downhill event in northeastern Italymarker. In Cortinamarker, only three weeks before the worlds were to begin, Killy skiied in a raced in his typical hell-bent, devil-may-care style. About two hundred yards (182 m) from the finish Killy hit a stretch of ice in a compression and went down, rose immediately, then crossed the finish on just one ski‚ÄĒand the fastest time. Unfortunately, his other leg was broken, and he watched the World Championships on crutches.

Two years later, at age 20, Killy was entered in all three of the men's events at the 1964 Olympics, because his coach wanted to prepare him for 1968. Unfortunately, Killy was plagued by recurrences of amoebic dysentery and hepatitis, ailments that he had contracted in 1962 during a summer of compulsory service with the French army in Algeriamarker. His form was definitely off, and he fell a few yards after the start of the downhill, lost a binding in the slalom, and finished fifth in the giant slalom, in which he had been the heavy favorite.

Although the first half of the decade was a relative disappointment, the results began to come for him in, beginning in the unexpected month of August 1966. Killy won his first downhill race against an international field at the 1966 World Championships in Portillomarker, Chilemarker in August, and also took gold in the combined. Killy was peaking as the first World Cup season was launched in January 1967, with the 1968 Winter Olympics in France only a year away.

Dominance - 1967-68

Killy was the first World Cup champion in 1967, winning 12 of 17 races to easily take the overall title. He also won the season titles in each of the three disciplines; he won all five of the downhill races and four of the five giant slalom races.

The following year, Killy won the Triple Crown of Alpine Skiing with a sweep of all three gold medals (downhill, giant slalom and slalom) at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoblemarker, Francemarker. By finishing first in both the downhill and slalom, he also easily won the world championship medal in the combined event.

With the Olympic events included (for the only time) in the World Cup standings, Killy easily repeated in 1968 as the overall champion, placing first in the giant slalom and second in the downhill and slalom season standings. He retired following the 1968 season, and moved to Genevamarker, Switzerlandmarker, in 1969.

Post-Olympic career

In May 1968, Killy signed with International Management Group, the sports management firm headed by Mark McCormack. After racing on Rossignol skis during his competitive career, Killy signed a deal with Head Skis in early 1969 to endorse a metal and fiberglass ski named for him, the Killy 800. Head, which was acquired by AMF later that year, manufactured a line of Killy skis for at least two years.

Killy also became a spokesman for Schwinn bicycles and Chevrolet automobiles; the latter, a role detailed by journalist Hunter S. Thompson in his 1970 article "The Temptations of Jean-Claude Killy" for Scanlan's Monthly.

Killy starred as a ski instructor in the 1972 crime movie Snow Job, released in the UKmarker as The Ski Raiders, and U.S.marker TV as The Great Ski Caper. American children in the early 1970s knew Killy from a TV commercial where he introduces himself, his thick accent making his name into "Chocolate Kitty." Killy played himself in the 1983 movie Copper Mountain: A Club Med Experience, starring Jim Carrey and Alan Thicke, set at the now closed Club Med village at Copper Mountainmarker, Coloradomarker.

Jean-Claude Killy also had a short career as a racing driver between 1967 and 1970, participating in the Paris Dakar Rally.

In November 1972, Killy came out of ski racing retirement at age 29 to compete on the pro circuit in the U.S. for one season. After a spirited challenge from two-time defending champion Spider Sabich, Killy won the 1973 season title, taking $28,625 in race winnings and a $40,000 bonus for the championship.[6703]

From 1977 to 1994, he was a member of the Executive board of the Alpine Skiing Committee of the FIS. Killyserved as co-president of the 1992 Winter Olympics, held in Albertvillemarker, Francemarker, and as the President of the Société du Tour de France cycling race between 1992 and 2001. From 1995 to 2008, he was a member of the International Olympic Committeemarker.

The ski area of Val d'Isère and Tignesmarker in the French Alps was given the name l'Espace Killymarker, in his honor.

Jean-Claude Killy became Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur in 2000.

Intrawest credits Jean-Claude Killy with the design of a ski trail, "Cupp Run," at their Snowshoemarker resort in West Virginiamarker.

Personal life

From 1973 to 1987, he was married to French actress Danièle Gaubert, until her death from cancer. Together they had a daughter, Emilie; he also adopted her two children from her first marriage to Rhadamés Trujillo, the son of Rafael Trujillo, the assassinated dictator of the Dominican Republicmarker. Gaubert and Trujillo were divorced in 1968 and later that year she met Killy. [6704]

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