For the next several hours Jean Saubert was a true celebrity. One by one, the American men came down from the top to hug her and plant kisses on each cheek. French Coach Honor� Bonnet struggled for an explanation.
"Jean Saubert," Bonnet said, "is the only explanation."
Toni Sailer, Austria's national hero of the 1956 Winter Olympics, congratulated Jean and then turned to the press. "She goes to the gates," said Sailer. "She doesn't wait for them. You say Jean Saubert, you stop twice, then you mention the rest."
"Why do you ski so fast?" asked a European writer. "Why," Jean said, smiling pleasantly, "do the others ski so slow?" Another reporter asked why the Americans had not competed in Europe last year. Said Jean quickly, "We don't think you have to ski in Europe to be good."
"You seem to have no fear," said a Frenchman. "Me?" Jean said, astonished. "I'm scared to death." "Then what are you thinking about just before the start of a race?" the Frenchman asked. "Oh," Jean said, rolling her blue eyes and grinning, "I'm wondering how I'm going to be a good sport if I lose."
After this exchange Jean was followed by reporters back to the Schweizerhof Hotel in Grindelwald, where she kept bubbling cheerfully until bedtime.
During the week of the races, Jean received from her sorority sisters at Oregon State a phonograph recording made by four girls, "The Honey Lovers," in her Chi Omega house. So thrilled by the package were Jean and Linda Meyers that Linda raced out and bought a $30 record player, and two other albums, Sinatra and Strings and Swiss music without Sinatra. "The boys had a phonograph when we were with them, but they never let us use it," Jean explained. For two days thereafter the lobby of the Schweizerhof rocked to the sounds of The Honey Lovers, who sing folk songs with the mere hint of a twist beat. "I don't do the twist," said Jean. "It took me two years to get up the courage to try it, and then it went out of style."
Jean has one more year at Oregon State before completing a degree in education. At the same time, she says, she will wind up her career as a competitive skier. "There are other things than skiing," she said. "I either want to teach school, go into the Peace Corps or work with physically handicapped children. I think each would be very rewarding.
"I like to be the best at whatever I do," she continued, "whether it's grades, ping-pong, cooking, ski racing or anything." With a trace of pride, Jean added that as counselor at a camp in Oregon last summer, only her group learned to cook a pizza and salmon underground. That, she said, demonstrated her will to win.
The U.S. team is loaded down with various uniforms for racing as well as leisure, and Jean has been something of a style setter. She cut the insteps out of her racing stretch pants because they hurt her feet, so the other five girls followed suit. Jean also decided that Sunday was a good day to wear the gray dresses supplied them, so they all wear the dresses for Sunday lunch. At award ceremonies, led by Jean Saubert, the girls all switch to their heavy, high-necked, white sweaters, their red-white-and-blue plaid skirts and their long blue stockings. They look like a dance team from Scotland.