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Compared to Suzy, the other American girls were reasonably quiet. There were several reasons. Sandy Shellworth, 22, was worrying about two love interests—one with the young man back home, and one with a Swiss doctor from Berne. "She should worry more about giant slalom," said Ferries. Sandy combed her long straight hair and labored five hours over letters to her admirers. "I feel tortured," she said. So did Ferries. Shellworth's best finish was a 12th in downhill at Schruns. Penny McCoy, a pert blonde about as tall as a boot but far more fetching, took less time on her notes to Heuga. She scribbled them hastily on scratch paper and slipped them into Bob Beattie's parka for delivery, but she also thought about skiing, which is good because Penny can be as good as anyone in slalom. She was a third in the world championships in Portillo (SI, Aug. 15, 1966). Ferries also discovered notes from Penny on his pillow. They all exuded confidence, although Penny's fifth place at Grindelwald was her best showing. "I am going to win," the notes would say, and Ferries would grin and go to sleep, no doubt counting girl skiers jumping over Alps.
Robin Morning, 19, whose smile bubbles more than Orsi's baths, was as preoccupied as the others, mainly with Penny's brother on the men's team, Dennis (Poncho) McCoy. Ah, youth. Robin was once traipsing through the country-side and found a leaf; it was poetic, it reminded her of Poncho, she put it in a book. "Well, that's just so touching it makes me sick," said Penny. And everyone giggled. Robin managed to get an eighth in slalom at Schruns while pressing her skis together.
For a while in Schruns, Austria, a remote ski village on the other side of the Arlberg Pass from St. Anton, it looked as if the girls were finally going to break through with a good result. Wendy Allen, 22, ran a bristling slalom and tied Nancy Greene for third place behind Goitschel and Famose but, as Americans do from time to time, she missed a gate up on the icy course and was disqualified. A cute little brunette who plays a concert piano and who has flashes of greatness in slalom, Wendy keeps Ferries bothered. "She doesn't really fire out. She thinks she's aggressive, but she isn't—not as much as Suzy or Robin or even Penny. But in or out of love, the American girls are going to be O.K.," Ferries argued. "They're better than we've had. They're slow starters. We were tired coming here from a tough camp at Vail. We don't have a Jean Saubert yet, but Suzy could win a downhill anytime, Wendy could win a giant slalom and Penny could win a slalom. And the best part is that back home we've got about 10 more who are just about as good as these."
The sudden success of Nancy Greene had the Americans as psyched and bewildered as it did the French and sagging Austrians. Nancy won the first two races of the big European season, a slalom and giant slalom at Oberstaufen. Then she went to Grindelwald and won the giant slalom and the downhill. "The more you win, the easier it is," she said. She fell in the slalom, and Annie Famose won. But Nancy went on to capture four out of five events.
There seemed to be three reasons for Nancy's explosion. First of all, Marielle Goitschel was just getting into condition from an ankle injury she suffered in December in Val-d'Isère. Second, Austria's Erika Schinegger, the best women's downhiller, suffered a minor injury at Oberstaufen. Third, Nancy Greene is racing better than ever and, as the racers philosophically put it, "This is her turn."
It should be. Nancy is 23, but she has been racing on the major circuit since 1960. She is short, with bangs, a sly grin on her lips and an Esso tiger pasted on her helmet. She is friendly but frank, a fiery competitor who will yell and slam her poles into the snow and weep at any racing disappointment. "She's great," says Bob Beattie. "She'll fight you to win. What's painful is that she grew up in Rossland [B.C.], only six miles from the U.S. I've been trying to get her to defect for five years."
When Nancy is right, no girl skis as fast. She has better technique in the high-speed turns and a finer feeling of the skis in downhill than Erika Schinegger. And in slalom she has a lighter touch and a quicker turn than either Goitschel or Famose. When she goes, she really goes. But she gives up strength to all three, especially to Schinegger, a bony, flatland farm girl. On the downhill Schinegger is a bull who goes, as Marielle Goitschel says, "Bang! Bang! Bang!" Marielle adds, "She's a maniac. She barely avoids death."
If Schinegger is a bull, Goitschel is no calf. She's almost as big and strong in her specialty, the slaloms, and what is likely to keep her ahead of Nancy Greene is her near-perfect form and technique, and supreme confidence. At Schruns, for example, Nancy couldn't help feeling her luck was running out—because of the four victories—and Marielle, back in top condition, was itching to beat her.
Said Nancy, "I've gotten cables from all over, from mayors of Canadian towns, from former racers, from the Governor General, everybody. It's been great. I'm going to put them in a scrap-book, and when I start losing I'll read them and maybe my confidence will come back."
And Marielle said, "She's going to lose because she doesn't think enough. It's all a chance with her. We think during a race, we French." Then she added comically, "But I'm going to win because of Jean-Claude Killy. He has won the Lauberhorn now, and they're saying he's the greatest in the world."