Grenoble 1968

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.

Australian Olympians At The Games

Flag Bearers

Olympian Name Ceremony
Malcolm Milne Opening

Australian Medallists At The Games

No records found.

History

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.

The women’s luge also sparked controversy when three East German entrants, who had finished first, second and fourth, were disqualified for heating their runners, prompting their officials to complain of a “capitalist revanchist plot”. 

Sweden’s Toini Gustafsson won the women’s 10km cross-country event by more than one minute. In the 5km event, Gustafsson was four seconds behind the leader with a kilometre to go but accelerated to score another victory. She completed her Olympic career by leading Sweden to second place in the relay.

For the first time, a non-Scandinavian, Italy’s Franco Nones, captured a Nordic skiing title, winning the men’s 30km freestyle cross-country event. Canadian alpine skier Nancy Green claimed the giant slalom gold, zigzagging through the gates at phenomenal speed.

The United States’ only gold medal was won by the figure skater, Peggy Fleming, who wore a costume stitched together by her mother. Fleming remains one of the most popular figure skating champions of the Games.

Games Trivia

Grenoble 1968 was a Games of Olympic firsts.

Norway won the most medals, the first time a country other than the USSR had done so. Gender tests for women were introduced, as were doping controls for both men and women. The Grenoble Games were also the first to be broadcast in colour.

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Did you know?

At Beijing 2008 Australia won 14 gold medals, 15 silver and 17 bronze, a total of 46 medals.