"These antics of hers are not funny anymore," said Schaeffler later. "People have been calling her 'playful Marielle' for three years, but do you want to know what she is? She is a bouncer in a Paris nightclub."
But she is still a very good skier, and is clinging to her role as the best woman racer in the world, though just barely. She is having her poorest season since she emerged with that reputation at the Innsbruck Olympics in 1964.
For three winters Marielle almost never fell in a race or in practice and was virtually unbeatable. She was too agile and strong. You could put her in a four-way intersection of Mexico City taxicabs, and the odds would be against her getting knocked off her feet. But this year she has been catching snow in the face like a beginner. She fell in a slalom at Oberstaufen. She fell in another slalom at Monte Bondone. She did a classic cartwheel in downhill practice at Bad Gastein and suffered a mild concussion. And then she came out of her binding in the Franconia downhill and sliced a couple of moguls off old C-93, which was the name of the downhill course before New Hampshire Governor John King changed it to The Killy Racing Trail.
There have been several explanations for the fact that Marielle is not dominating her sport the way she has done in the past—for the fact that she has come back to the field, so to speak, thereby giving Annie Famose and Nancy Greene a shot at the women's World Cup.
The word in Europe was that she simply had not trained seriously enough and was perhaps growing complacent. She did suffer an injury to her Achilles' tendon in Val-d'Is�re, her home in the French Alps, before the major part of the season started. A further explanation for her obvious inconsistency in 1967 was offered by a journalist who knows her well, Serge Lang of L'Equipe. "I think she may be in love," said Serge.
Whether any of these reasons were valid only Marielle could say, and she chose to blame it all on her preseason training.
"Hurting my foot in Val-d'Is�re ruined my training and got me off to a bad start," she said. "Yes, I have a boy friend, but I never see him. He is a Parisian."
She swore she was not complacent, primarily because of Annie Famose. "She has always been there to overtake me when I have faltered," she says. "I fear Annie constantly, and therefore I must always try my best."
Annie Famose became someone to be feared last August, when she won the world championship in slalom at Portillo. Until then she had been the girl who finished second to Marielle on just about every Alp in Europe.
Famose is a little, dark-eyed, animated cutie with black bangs who can whoop or weep at the drop of a decimal point on a result sheet. Next to Killy, she is the member of the French team who is most popular with the other racers. Men have been known to take one glance at her cheerfully vivid smile and vote her the girl they would like most to take on their next Mediterranean cruise.