One of the early Albertville traveling emissaries was Fran�ois L�pine, now a chief administrator for Valence in the Rhone Valley. "The thing that made it easier for us was that, no matter where we went, they knew Killy," says L�pine. "In Togo, in Thailand, in Kuwait, in Bulgaria, they always knew Killy."
The Albertville boys improved their sales talk, printed sophisticated brochures and made a couple of lovely films to sell the Savoie. However, in June 1984, they were dealt what seemed a terrible blow: Paris announced it was launching a bid for the 1992 Summer Olympics. If it succeeded, Albertville's bid would be dead, because since 1936 the IOC has declined to hold the Winter Games and the Summer Games in the same country. From the start, the Paris campaign was polished and powerful, led by none other than Chirac, who was then the prime minister of France.
"We thought that was the end of us," says Killy. "We had been working very hard for three years already, and here was Paris, doing everything in the best way and, of course, the biggest way. We decided our best strategy was to jump in the backseat, follow them everywhere and wait."
The IOC was to choose the two host cities at its Lausanne headquarters on Oct. 17, 1986. The competition was fierce, with 13 cities chasing the two Olympics—Amsterdam; Belgrade; Birmingham, England; Brisbane; Barcelona; and Paris were bidding for the Summer Games, while Anchorage; Berchtesgaden. West Germany; Cortina, Italy; Falun, Sweden; Lillehammer, Norway; Sofia and Albertville wanted the Winter Games. As the date of decision drew nearer, one thing became unmistakably clear: Samaranch, born and bred in Barcelona, would do everything in his power to ensure that Barcelona got the 1992 Summer Games.
Two months before the Lausanne meeting, Killy went to the prime minister's office at the Hotel de Matignon in Paris and spoke man-to-man to Chirac. "I told him there was no chance for Paris, but I said I understood that the bid could not be canceled at that late date," says Killy. "All I did was ask him if he would make a speech for Albertville, as well as for Paris, before the IOC in Lausanne. He was the prime minister of all of the country, not just Paris. He agreed, and we agreed not to tell anyone else."
Chirac's surprise endorsement of Albertville's bid was, in Killy's estimation, the most important tactic in the campaign to win the Games. "He was, after all, the head of the Paris bid," says Killy, "and for him to speak for a rival was very moving." Albertville won, with 51 votes to Sofia's 25, on the sixth ballot. The triumph was profound. But....
The day the IOC picked Albertville, Dani�le was recuperating from an operation in a hospital in Marseilles. Jean-Claude had known for five months that she had incurable cancer. "Only Jean-Claude and I knew about it at that point," recalls Mic. "She did not know. It was so difficult for him. I don't think he wanted to be president of CO JO then. I think he wanted only to spend time with her until she died."
Nevertheless, Killy decided to serve as copresident with Barnier, and at a COJO meeting on Jan. 16, 1987, the announcement was made. Thirteen days later Killy resigned in a rage. Many had expected the COJO meeting to be mainly champagne and celebration. Instead, Killy used the occasion to announce a tough cost-cutting plan that called for consolidating certain venues and eliminating others. The most controversial idea was to move one men's Alpine event from Tignes to Val-d'Is�re and one women's Alpine event from Les Menuires to M�ribel, leaving both Tignes and Les Menuires with nothing.
In the days immediately following his announcement, Killy visited the mayors of the 10 villages that will host events to explain his plan, but the uproar was thunderous. He was accused of favoring his hometown and of being dictatorial. Roger Cumin, the mayor of the commune in which Les Menuires is located, called the decision "a catastrophe...a tragedy" and said, "Killy has adopted the methods of American businessmen who have no consideration for the human impact of their decision."
L�o Lacroix, Killy's former teammate and a medal winner in the '64 Olympics, who was representing Les Menuires, blasted his old friend: " Jean-Claude Killy and his committee lack fair play." Marielle Goitschel, a fellow gold medalist in Grenoble, former good friend and also a Les Menuires booster, said, "I find the way in which he proceeded inelegant: Killy arrived with his team at this assembly of officials and puts before them this fait accompli...without the slightest consternation. It is inadmissible!"