Jean-Claude Killy

Jean-Claude Killy Biography

Athlete (1943–)
Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy became the second skier in Olympic history to sweep the Alpine events during the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France.


Born in 1943 in France, Jean-Claude Killy grew up in the mountain town of Val d'Isère. After emerging as one of the world's top skiers in the mid-1960s, he became just the second competitor to sweep all three Alpine events at the 1968 Winter Olympics. 

Killy later held several top Olympic posts, including Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the 2014 Winter Games.

Early Life

Olympic skier Jean-Claude Killy was born on August 30, 1943, in Saint-Cloud, France. 

His father, Robert, moved the family to Val d'Isère in 1945 to find work in the ski industry, and Killy took to the sport as a young child. At 15, he dropped out of school to pursue a career of competitive skiing.

Skiing Career

By 1964, Killy had emerged as France's top skier. He was slowed by illness during the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, but won championships that year in the three Alpine skiing divisions of downhill, slalom and giant slalom.

In 1966, Killy won the downhill and combination events at the World Championships in Portillo, Chile. He dominated the inaugural World Cup series the following year, winning 12 of 17 events to easily top the standings.

Considered the men’s favorite at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France, Killy lived up to the expectations by becoming just the second skier to win gold medals in all three Alpine events. 

However, his sweep came with controversy: When Austrian Karl Schranz insisted a figure had crossed his path during his slalom run, he was given another chance and delivered the fastest time. A Jury of Appeal later disqualified him for missing a gate, and Killy claimed the gold with the next best time.

With the Olympic results counting toward the World Cup standings that year, Killy easily won his second straight Cup before retiring from competitive skiing.

Post Olympic Fame and Leadership

Killy's Olympic triumph came at a time when skiing had surged in popularity, and he signed endorsement deals with several major companies, including Head Skis, Schwinn bicycles and Chevrolet. He also leveraged his fame into the pursuit of other activities, such as auto racing, acting and establishing a clothing line.

Killy returned to skiing in the United States pro circuit for one year and won the season title in 1973. That year, he also married actress Daniele Gaubert.

The former ski champion eventually became involved in the higher levels of sports administration. He was Co-Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, and joined the International Olympic Committee in 1995. 

Named Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, he held that post again for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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