Grenoble 1968 - Overview

Killy skies into French and Olympic folklore

When French President Charles de Gaulle said he wanted the 1968 Winter Olympics to be "prestigious", even this most demanding of leaders could hardly have hoped for a more successful Games than those held at Grenoble.

The opening ceremony in the impressive new Paul Mistral stadium, packed with 60,000 spectators and with millions more watching on television was an extravaganza in itself, with figure skater Alain Calmat completing proceedings by lighting the Olympic flame.

1,158 athletes - including 211 women - took part in the Games, and over 1,600 technicians ensured worldwide television coverage of all the events for the first time.

In the sporting arena, Jean-Claude Killy delighted the home crowd by winning three gold medals, equalling the record set by Austria's Toni Sailer 12 years earlier.

France's alpine skiing glory continued with the success of Marielle Goitschel, who pipped Canada's Nancy Greene in the women's slalom.

Greene, however, enjoyed her own moment of triumph two days later when she won the giant slalom.

The magic of Peggy Fleming

Meanwhile, in a stadium packed to the rafters, America's Peggy Fleming bewitched the 11,500 spectators with a breathtaking performance to take the women's figure skating gold, while Soviet Union couple Ludmilla Beloussova and Oleg Protopopov took the pairs event in equally dazzling style.

Two other competitors stamped their name on the Games: the first was Italy's Eugenio Monti who, aged 40 and with nine world titles under his belt, won his first Olympic titles, taking gold in the two and four-man bobsleigh events.

The second was Toni Gustafsson of Sweden, who won three medals in all, including two gold in the five and ten kilometre cross-country skiing events and silver in the relay.

Drama was certainly not in short supply at Grenoble, and there was even a whiff of politics when the Soviet Union and Czechoslavakia battled it out in the ice hockey tournament.

Although the Czechs got the better of the Soviets, winning 5-4, the Soviet Union went on the win the overall title and gold medal.

Just months later, Soviet tanks rumbled into the Czech capital, Prague.