Nothing forced him to resign. He could have stayed on until the age of 80 in 2023 , however, Jean- Claude Killy decided to leave the IOC after 19 years among the leaders of the Olympic world.
Quite simply because the triple Olympic alpine skiing champion in Grenoble believes he has fulfilled his duty with three IOC presidents: Juan Antonio Samaranch, Jacques Rogge and Thomas Bach. He believes his mission has been completed. JCK has always been a man of periods. The period of skiing, period of cars, the period of business, the period of the Olympic Games of Albertville, the period of the IOC. Maybe he now wants to enjoy the quiet mornings on Lake Geneva where he lives. Gone is the time when Jean-Claude won all junior French championships in La Clusaz in 1960.
Yes, now Killy, who was nicknamed “Toutoune”, will be able to relive the film of his life. An extraordinary life dotted with sporting achievements and success in business which introduced him to the world’s leading personalities, whether athletes, actors, politicians or people. His abilities – physical, technical and above all mental, quickly made him an exceptional champion who, during his skiing career, won six world championships and two Alpine Skiing World Cups (1967 , 1968).
He accomplished his greatest triumph in 1968 in Grenoble, wining a fabulous Olympic treble on the slopes of Chamrousse. It equalled the performance of the Austrian Toni Sailer, who also completed the treble at the 1956 Olympics in Cortina d’ Ampezzo.
In 1973 he turned professional and won the world title while practicing his second passion, motor racing. He had already won the Targa Florio in touring in 1967 but also took part in the Monza 1000 km and Nurburgring 1000 km before competing in the Le Mans 24-hour race finishing in 17th place with Bob Wollek. Mark McCormarck took his career in his hands and allowed JCK to work with Coca Cola, Head , General Motors, Rolex or United Airlines. He also won the Oscar for exporting in 1982 with his company Veleda-Killy . He even made films, appearing in Snowjob alongside his wife Danièle Gaubert who died a few years later .
Then comes the adventure of Albertville, over which he presided with Michel Barnier, and which was a success as we all know . Without pausing to take a breath after the Olympics he joined the Amaury Group (ASO ) and became boss of the Tour de France and Paris -Dakar Rallye making them even more popular by signing contracts with many TV companies around the world. He left ASO in 1999 to devote himself completely to the IOC which he joined in 1995, at the Budapest session.
Long considered as one of his potential successors by Juan Antonio Samaranch, Jean- Claude Killy became an essential figure in the organization of the Olympic Winter Games. A member of the Finance Commission, he passed on his experience of the 1992 Olympics to the organizers of Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin and Sochi. A member of the Coordination Commission for the 1998 Games, Vice-President of it for 2002, he was its President in 2006 and 2014.
He probably saved the preparation of these two events through his obstinacy and his perfect knowledge of the needs of the organization of the Winter Games. In Turin, he slalomed between successive organizers and battles between politicians from the North and South of Italy. In Sochi , he handled the incredible task of overseeing a race against the clock. “In seven years Sochi has managed to construct what the French stations took a century to build”, he said on the eve of the opening of the Olympics. And do not talk to me about the 50 billion that was spent. This amount has nothing to do with the actual organization of the Games. There is the operational budget, the equipment of the Games which does not exceed 9 billion and there is the rest which concerns the infrastructure which is the choice of the host country not the IOC “.
To complete his last mission in Sochi, J-C Killy made no less than 40 trips to Russia. One of them, in September 2013, when many of the mountain hotels were not yet completed. “What is the point of Games if we do not accommodate people”, he had then argued with his Russian friends . “The Rosa Khutor station has 10,000 beds, it would take decades for Val d’Isere to have as many. “His proximity to Vladimir Putin, who he now considers a friend, has probably made things easier, but this race against the clock has undoubtedly left its mark on the triple Olympic champion from Grenoble.
Fourteen years of stress ensuring the Games were organized in due time have without doubt dampened his enthusiasm. Moreover, the probable Paris bid to host the 2024 Olympics would be forced to forego his involvement in the project, due to his membership of the IOC. But after the failures of Lille 2004 , Paris 2008 and 2012 and Annecy 2018, if it does not change its approach to a bid for the Games, France has no chance of winning: “We are always on large systems of values . As soon as you do not have these values, everyone flits , wanders all over the world, and you always run into the wall. We’ve been running into the wall for 15 years , that’s enough … ” His departure will undoubtedly leave a void in the Olympic world , but Jean-Claude Killy, who has left his mark on the IOC, already has his eye on other projects, other adventures.
This article is republished with permission from Karl-Heinz Huba, Editor and Publisher of the Sport Intern. The article was originally published in the Sport Intern.