No one can ski as much or as recklessly as Killy does and not break a few things, so he has done that, too. At 14 he broke his left leg in a junior slalom in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, and in 1962, shortly before the world championships, Killy broke his right leg in a downhill race—again at Cortina.
"I have many scars from skiing," he says, "but you cannot worry and do well. One thing I would like to do is race again at Cortina and break this time the jinx instead of my leg."
Killy believes that one of the nicest things that has happened to him through ski racing is his close friendship with the Americans, particularly with Jimmy Heuga. Killy and Heuga became friends in 1964, before, during and after the Winter Olympics, as the teams frequently traveled together and lived together. Then Killy spoke no English, except the little Heuga taught him, and Heuga spoke no French, except what Jean-Claude taught him.
But Killy needed few words for the kind of pranks he and the Americans both enjoy. One evening during a pre-Olympic race stop in Madonna de Campiglio in the Dolomites, Killy and some other racers shoved a Volkswagen into the lobby of the Golf Hotel there. They thought it was just about the funniest thing that ever happened. During the incident Killy kept leaping around like a monkey and hollering, "Look, Jeemie, look, Jeemie," no doubt hoping to obtain Heuga's approval. He did.
"Killy is really funny," says Heuga. "He doesn't say anything funny, he just acts funny a lot. He really knows himself. He can cut up a lot and still race fantastically."
Killy and Heuga correspond regularly. They have made several trips together, not just around Europe for minor ski races but also in the U.S., where Killy has twice visited his American pal.
"We have much fun, the Americans and the French," says Killy. "We are closer than the others. The Austrians," he says, displaying a long, glum face and straightening his shoulders in imitation of them, "are very serious and quiet. They act like they want to win more than anyone, but that is not true. We all want to win."
An event which probably did more than anything to solidify the friendship of Killy and the Americans occurred in 1964 in Garmisch at the awards banquet for the Kandahar races. This was an important race which followed the Innsbruck Olympics, and it was a joyous one for both the French and Americans. They won everything. Killy won the giant slalom, and Heuga won both the slalom and combined (first time ever for a U.S. skier), and the season was now over. The party in the Garmisch Municipal Theater was lavish. It had a combo, dancing, huge platters of food, wine, speeches and dozens of dignified skiing people, not the least of whom was Sir Arnold Lunn, the elderly "father" of ski racing and originator of the Kandahar, skiing's oldest major event.
Part way through the proceedings Killy was sitting quietly at a table when a stream of water hit him in the face. It had been shot, rather skillfully, from a seltzer bottle two tables away by a U.S. racer named Rip McManus. Killy at first pretended not to know who did it. But in a few moments he got up to receive his award, and as he did so he picked up a seltzer bottle of his own. As he passed Rip's table he let go, straight into McManus' face, and kept walking to the podium. Any casual observer who witnessed all of this playful nonsense and figured it was over simply did not know either Killy or McManus.
When Jean-Claude stepped down from accepting his trophy and started back to his table, he was immediately confronted from behind a pillar by Rip, fully armed. One squirt, then two. Then a couple from Killy. By now all of the French and Americans were laughing riotously, but dozens of others in the big room were totally unaware of the battle in progress. Well, Jean-Claude began chasing McManus, and Rip chased Killy, spewing seltzer water every step. They romped to the top of an overhanging balcony that circled the ballroom, leaped off, one after the other, onto some tables below and continued The Great Kandahar Water Fight over the dance floor, through aisles, around corners, between pillars. In one joyous moment of it the Frenchman, like Belmondo himself, went bounding over the top of Sir Arnold Lunn's table.