A Sporting Life: Jean-Claude Killy

A sporting life Jean Claude Killy

 A Sporting Life – taking on the challenge to put together sports and style (not exactly natural bedfellows), and making a plea for outdoor sports

The skiing season may be over, but it’s always a good time to talk about sport (and be inspired by the outdoors and being in the company of nature), and style. Plus, I can’t believe I am saying this, but I find myself longing for much colder weather – we are skipping spring it seems and going right into summer and I simply do not like summer in spring. So, once again, I turned to my father for a little research on the greatest athletes of all time. Jean-Claude Killy was among the first ones he named. One of the greatest skiers in history, if not the greatest, Killy swept the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble (subsequently dubbed the Killympics) by winning the whole three alpine events, Downhill, Giant Slalom and Slalom. He also dominated Alpine skiing in the mid-to-late ’60s and won 12 out of 16 World Cup races during the 1966-1967 season. When on the slopes, he wasn’t matched by any other competitor, in terms of style, skill and speed, says my father.

Killy also developed his own method of starting a race. Instead of crowding as close to the starting line as possible and beginning the race from a standing position as his opponents, he used his upper-body strength and held himself up with his poles and then throwed himself forward to hit the starting bar while already moving forward at the official “Go” starting shout. This may be common today, but Killy was the first to do it.

But Killy wasn’t a game-changing hero just for his sport, but also for the flair in the way he dressed. If there is such a thing as classic slopestyle, then he is the man who had it. He looked good in form-fitting, geometrical patterned racing woollens, and he took a style rooted in function one step further and paved the terrain for après-ski and day-to-day wear, opting for rollneck cable-knit sweaters, shearling jackets, mirrored sunglasses and cool-looking knitted beanies. The French ski champion also remains one of the most important figures to Rolex, having been an ambassador for the brand for more than 40 years, and having a watch model named after him, the Rolex Dato-Compax Jean-Claude Killy. The brand has been associated with the quest for excellence in sport for almost a century. And understandably so. Sports transcend social, cultural, language and ideological barriers, and, quite like nothing else, unite people from all over the world under their common passion.
A sporting life Jean Claude Killy

Related content: A Sporting Life: Björn Borg / A Sporting Life: Nacho Figueras

photos: 1,3-Rolex / 2-Hulton Archive

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