World beater Goitschel finishes with a golden flourish
French skiers were under scrutiny and pressure in these Games but, even at the tender age of just 22 Marielle Goitschel was used to attention.
She had been a world champion at the age of just 16. Like Jean-Claude Killy, Marielle came from a village near Val d'Isère and was already accustomed to Olympic success. What made her unusual was that her greatest competition often came from her own sister.
Four years before, both the slalom and the giant slalom in Innsbruck had been turned into family contests between Marielle and her older sister Christine. Marielle won the giant slalom, with Christine taking silver. In the slalom the situation was reversed, Marielle having to be content with silver.
In Grenoble, there was only one Goitschel sister taking part, for Christine's form had suffered seriously after a bad ankle injury two years previously. Marielle, though, was entered into all three events – the downhill, giant slalom and slalom.
The first was the downhill, in which she came eighth. But her main focus was on the two slalom events and, three days later, came the slalom race itself. The early leader was another young prodigy – America's Judy Nagel. But having led the way in the first run, she fell at the beginning of her second run and was then disqualified for missing a gate.
Instead, it was to be a battle between Marielle and Nancy Greene, a tussle won by the home favourite with a margin of 0.29secs. France had another medal to celebrate, while Greene went on to win the giant slalom a couple of days later, with Goitschel down in seventh place.
She retired at the end of the season, still only 22 years old. She had won 11 world championship medals, at the time second on the all-time list.