Jean-Claude Killy


Jean-Claude Killy : biography

30 August 1943 –

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 Geneva, Switzerland, in 1969.

Personal life

From 1973 to 1987, he was married to French actress , 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 Republic. Gaubert and Trujillo were divorced in 1968 and later that year she met Killy.

Early life

Killy was born in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris, during the Nazi occupation of World War II, but was brought up in Val-d’Isère in the Alps, where his family had relocated in 1945 following the war. His father, Robert, was a former Spitfire pilot for the Free French, and opened a ski shop in the Savoie 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 Chambéry, down the valley, but he despised being shut up in a classroom. – Killy: A Man and his Kingdom – 1990-02-12

Post-Olympic career

In May 1968, Killy signed with International Management Group, the sports management firm headed by Mark McCormack. After racing on Dynamic VR17 skis during the part of his career when he was dominant, 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 UK as The Ski Raiders, and US 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 Copper Mountain, Colorado.

Jean-Claude Killy also had a short career as a racing driver between 1967 and 1970, participating in the Paris Dakar Rally. In team with fellow Frenchman Bernard Cahier, Killy was 7th overall in the 1967 Targa-Florio in a Porsche 911 S.

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. – March 1973

In addition to trying his skill as a car racer, Killy 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, Moët & Chandon, which paid him to be seen with a bottle of their champagne on his table everywhere he went. In 1974 Killy, as part of this sponsorship deal was paid to ski down the previously unskied eastern slope of Mt Ngaurohoe (Mt Doom) in New Zealand. The average slope on this side of the live volcano is 35 degrees. A radar recorded his speed at over 100 miles per hour. He did this twice as cloud cover spoilt the first filming shoot.

Read more: Jean-Claude Killy – Three Gold Medals – Junior Johnson, Slalom, Wins, Ski, Johnson, Downhill, and Time