Dani�le Gaubert, who until three years ago was married to the youngest son of the late President Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, is Killy's seasonal sweetheart in The Great Ski Caper. In real life she has been his constant companion for all seasons since her divorce. "It is beautiful to have her working with me," he says unselfconsciously.
"I had plenty of offers to make films before. They wanted me to be with Paul Newman in an auto racing movie. But I turned them all down, because I am not artiste, you know, and those movie people with the long hair and the silk scarves..." he trails off, but the implication is clear that perhaps for once the boy who had dropped out of school at 16 back in Val d'Is�re had been a little intimidated.
Director Englund, standing nearby and engaged in one of his frequent disputes with the Italian mountain guides, is not a typical movie person. "George just came by," Killy says, "and he was a good tennis player; he was there all the time when I wanted to talk and I just trusted him. He understood I am not artiste. He told me, 'If we don't get it right, we do it again, three, four times. If you are disappointed or you think you look stupid in a scene, don't worry, we'll do it again.' "
There is now evidence on location, however, that this easy relationship, which began last year when the two men met at Sun Valley, is beginning to wilt a little.
"He's kind of lost in the snow, you know what I mean?" Killy says, then hastens to make his meaning clear: "I don't mean his camera work. I don't mean he's lost technically. But it's hard to give him advice." A subtle change has come over Killy since the interiors were shot and the unit went on location in the Alps. He is on his own ground now and very sure of himself. His friend Willy Bogner also is a little irked. Normally Bogner directs his own film unit ( he was responsible for the snow scenes in the last James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service
), but now he is virtually a cameraman under Englund's control, performing such remarkable feats as skiing downhill backward to shoot Killy's descents.
"He just doesn't know the dangers up here," Willy puts in, and to underline his point the altercation between Englund and the mountain guides grows in pitch. It is 1:30 p.m., and the sun is beating down on the snow. "This place is full of hidden holes and crevasses. Somebody could go through anytime once the snow covering starts to melt."
Englund wants one more shot, but the guides are ready to walk off without him. They win their point, and as if to prove it, members of the crew are roped together—a guide ahead of each party—to reach the helicopter. Killy regards the performance with quizzical resignation. "You see what I mean?" he says.
But in the Hotel Nicoletta that evening, tensions ease. It is Englund's birthday, and there is a party, movieland style, with caviar in a sturgeon of sculpted ice accompanied by considerable champagne. There are birthday gifts: the Italian guides present a shiny new ice ax. "It's ironic, eh?" says Killy slyly. He doesn't drink much wine, smokes only for curiosity one of those odd Swiss cheroots twisted and gnarled like a knotty twig. "I'm really a 10-o'clock-to-bed man, you know," he says. "That's why I like Geneva so much."
One of the glittering prizes that has come to Jean-Claude since he left ski racing is a fine new house in Geneva. At present it is still inhabited by electricians and plumbers, and the garage is crammed with silver cups and uncounted pairs of skis. "There are flowers and lawns," he says, "and we can watch the sailing races out on the lake, the mountains of the French Jura and the Geneva fountain, too. It is all green with climbing plants, and the roof is red-tiled, like a Mediterranean fisherman's house, you know? And there is a big open fireplace of red Italian stone in the living room.
"It is beautiful in Geneva," he says, turning down a post-dinner cognac. "Just two five-minute traffic jams each day, and I have a motorbike so I can slalom through those. Though you have to be discreet, just like a Swiss, and follow the rules. In Paris you park anywhere, then argue about it with the cop. That's just not done in Geneva."