So there was Charlotte Ford Niarchos going up on Baldy Mountain in a helicopter to watch Jean-Claude and Nancy and Gerhard keep on winning ski races, and there was Ann Sothern hanging around that funny old relic called the Duchin Room with her hero and house guest, Karl Schranz, and there were all of those faithful hundreds, strewn down the bright, warm hill, zapped on wine by day, and dancing to It Happened—one, two, slide, whirl—in Sun Valley by night. In fact, it could only have happened in Sun Valley, the Late, Late Show of ski resorts—but wonderfully so.
This year's edition of the sport of Alpine racing began to sink slowly in the American West last week when it reached nostalgic Sun Valley for the American international team races, only meet on the circuit that proves whether France is better than Austria, while the U.S., Switzerland and Canada go along for the ride. This time France did it for the fourth straight year. Austria almost beat the French because Killy was practically alone in outpointing the combined efforts of oldtimers like Gerhard Nenning, Schranz and Heini Messner and youngsters like Alfred Matt, Reinhard Tritscher, Olga Pall and Gertrud Gabl.
For the first two days it certainly looked as if Sun Valley would be the scene of an overthrow. Austria has been climbing back on top as a ski nation all season and, with Jean-Claude retiring along with Marielle Goitschel, Guy P�rillat and even Coach Honor� Bonnet in a couple of weeks, it now seems improbable that France can keep the revitalized Austrians from getting up there next year, anyhow.
In a lot of ways last week Sun Valley belonged to that ancient (29) Alpine campaigner, Karl Schranz, despite Killy's presence. One of the reasons was because the Austrians were winning, with Schranz helping (he was third in the downhill, won by Nenning, and fourth to Killy in slalom), and the other was because Karl has always been big in Sun Valley society. Once again, for example, Schranz did not stay in the Lodge with his teammates but with Ann Sothern in her blue, Tyrolean house about half a mile away. She gave teas for him, had parties for him and swung around town with him, as she has in the past.
"I think Karly is just great." she said. "He is such a lovely boy. I love to watch him wax his skis."
Also, it was Schranz, not Killy, who was invited to ski down the mountain one afternoon with Charlotte Ford Niarchos, Sun Valley's leading Jet Setter right now, and did, and who was invited to go bowling in the Lodge with Charlotte Ford Niarchos and did. Well, loyalists of Sun Valley like nostalgic things like the old dining room where Norma Shearer danced, like the Hemingway Suite and the Duchin Room. And like Karl Schranz, who has been around skiing longer than the reindeer sweater.
Of course, this has been Karl's year as much as Killy's in a certain sense, mainly because of the slalom controversy at Grenoble. Almost everybody, including members of Karl's own team, believes that Schranz should have been disqualified and that Killy won the race fairly, but Schranz still thinks he won the race, and he even has seven gold medals to prove it. Uh huh, seven. A rock-built, blue-eyed, loud-voiced fellow who has always seemed, in an amusing way, to be the guy Central Casting would send over if you asked for a storm trooper, Schranz relaxed one afternoon at Ann Sothern's and spoke of it.
"I received medals from Austrian newspapers and from strangers," he said. "I even got one from the Austrian Olympic Committee. Everybody is on my side. I may get more medals."
It is almost unthinkable that Karl will keep racing. He has been one of the very best since 1957. "I believe that I have won exactly 110 world races," he said. "That is, of course, more than anyone." But he wants more.
As he said, "I still finish in the top five regularly, and I am capable of winning any race. My sister runs my pension in St. Anton. There is no money in professional racing, so what am I to do? I am always in good physical shape, so my age does not matter. Anyway, it is not a bad life, as you can see."