Grenoble 1968

The 1968 Winter Olympics were held in Grenoble, France. For the first time the Games were broadcast in colour and there was the appearance of a non-official mascot called "Schuss". He was portrayed as a little cartoon-like character on skis. Norway was the most successful nation, winning six gold medals.

French hero Jean-Claude Killy matched the 1956 triple gold alpine skiing feat of Austria’s Tony Sailer by winning the downhill, slalom and giant slalom. His hat-trick featured one of the greatest controversies in the history of the Winter Olympics. Killy’s rival, Karl Schranz of Austria, claimed that a mysterious man in black crossed his path during the slalom race, causing him to skid to a halt. Given a restart, Schranz beat Killy’s time. However, a Jury of Appeal disqualified Schranz and gave the victory to Killy. The Frenchman remains one of the most admired Olympic champions in history.

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Australia at the Games

Australia sent a team of three men to Grenoble. Other than the 1936 Games in which only Kenneth Kennedy competed, it remains the smallest team Australia has sent to a Winter Olympics.

One of the representatives was Malcolm Milne, the younger brother of Ross Milne, who had been killed in a freak training accident at the 1964 Winter Olympics. Inspired by the fate of his brother, he fought his way into the team and was the sole alpine skier. The 19-year-old finished 24th in both the downhill and the slalom events, the best results ever recorded by an Australian skier. Milne carried the Australian flag in the Opening Ceremony.

Ross and Malcolm had both been taught by the Austrian Sigi Haberzettl, who was chief coach at Falls Creek in Victoria for 17 years. They travelled at weekends for intensive training from Myrtleford, about 150km away. Following the 1968 Winter Olympics, Milne joined a French team in Europe and during one golden season of 1971/2 won several world-class races.

The other two Olympians for Australia were cross-country skier Ross Martin, who placed 60th in both the 15km and 30km events; and speed skater Colin Coates, who was 41st in the 500m and 49th in the 1500m. It was Coates’ first Olympics; he would compete in a record five more before retiring.