Killy's commercial empire—which has made all this possible—is now extensive. Apart from the obvious connections, such as those with Head Skis, Lange Boots and a line of ski clothes, he has interests in real estate, hotels and restaurants and in ski tours, and he has promotional tie-ins with car manufacturers, airlines and electronic firms. Killy is, frankly, still exhilarated by his new life and misses the old free days on the ski slopes not at all.
"I'm proud to have made the change in my life as easily as I have," he says. "Rapidly. Without regrets. It was a beautiful life on the racing slopes, yes, but while I was still skiing I was afraid of the future. I used to think, 'The day will come and I will have to retire.' I remembered all the sportsmen who fell on hard times and I was scared it would happen to me."
Now it is after dinner, and the lounge is noisily invaded by some of the film crowd who want to play poker. Surprisingly, Killy, the 10-o'clock man, doesn't flinch. Instead, his eyes light up. And at 1 a.m. he is still playing, with a substantial pile of 100-franc notes in front of him. (Next morning, filming canceled because of low clouds on the mountains, Jean-Claude is encountered sitting placidly in the hotel's mineral bath. And the poker game? How did that finish? "I always win," he says. "The others are so unlucky.")
When it is possible to get back to work on the Plateau Rosa, the tensions begin to build up again. Killy is restless because he knows just what needs to be done and feels diffident about stating his views directly. After an hour or two of abortive attempts at filming a snowmobile sequence with actor Cliff Potts, Englund orders a shift in location to another part of the glacier. Bogner rolls his eyes upward. "We've been trying to tell him to do this for four days," Killy says. But he endears himself to the big, hearty Italian mountain men by helping to load the equipment as earlier he had grabbed a shovel to play his part in making a snow helipad. "We speak almost the same patois, you know," he says of them, and this is clearly a bond. Killy has, in fact, retained contact with the closest friends of his Val d'Is�re days. Michel Arpin now manages his ski factory. L�o Lacroix, who was second in the Olympic downhill in 1964, is his neighbor in Geneva.
From the Plateau Rosa, it is not far across the mountains to Val d'Is�re. It is a place that still means a great deal to Killy, though he has not been able to get back there since Christmas. "That's where I shall go when I retire," he says suddenly. It is characteristic of him that he can actively plan retirement while at the height of his commercial success. It will not be a question of having amassed enough money. "In Val d'Is�re you need very little money anyway. I love my life now and I see no end to the pattern. But as soon as it gets boring or I sense the need for a change, that is what I am going to do."
Now Killy is called, and he clips on his skis and glides over to where Englund is grouped with the camera unit. There is a short delay. It is too far away to hear, but arms are raised in what looks like a lively discussion. Killy's arm points one way, Englund's another.
We may, indeed, be hearing more of Jean-Claude Killy, movie superstar. He could make the same kind of success in acting that he has made in every other sphere in which he has operated. On current evidence, though, it seems that still another m�tier lies ahead of him: directing movie superstars.