Val d'Isere's roll call of skiing champions

Updated 7:37 AM ET, Mon December 17, 2012
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Henri Oreiller was the first Olympic champion to come from Val d'Isere in the French Alps. A maverick risk taker, he won three golds at the 1948 Winter Games. He used to fly over bumps in the slopes, balancing himself mid air.
Jean Claude Killy emerged as a world famous skier in the late 1960s. He honed his skills in Val d'Isere and went on to claim three gold medals at the 1968 Winter Olympics. Legend has it he once won a trial race on one leg, having broken the other half way down the slopes.
Killy (left) won all three disciplines at the 1968 Winter Olympics (downhill, giant slalom, and slalom) but retired at the age of 24. Like Oreiller, Killy tried his hand at motor racing, competing in the Paris-Dakar rally.
Val d'Isere is a small village that became an internationally renowned ski resort. This picture, from 1896, shows its humble origins, as a handful of homes cluster round its 11th century church.
Skiing is synonymous with Val d'Isere -- it was principally enlisted to help the villagers get around. But as this snap from 1849 shows, it wasn't long before its snowy slopes were utilized for a ski school.
Val d'Isere was a treacherous place to get to in the winter months. The Iseran mountain pass, opened in 1937, encouraged more people to visit the village -- which was often was buried in snow eight months of the year -- as skiing became a popular leisure pursuit.
Val d'Isere hosted the alpine skiing at the 1992 Winter Olympics, and huge crowds flocked to the Alps.
The 2011 "Criterium de la Premiere Neige" race had to be canceled due to a lack of snow on Val d'Isere's slopes. Hours after the decision was taken to call it off, the village was covered by a downfall but it was too late. Getty Images
Val d'Isere's altitude of 1,850 meters means it often enjoys snow most of the year round. It has hosted over 130 competitions, making it one of Europe's most popular resorts. Getty Images
Val d'Isere remains one of the most prestigious meets on the skiing calendar, and is one every racer wants on their roll call of wins. All-conquering U.S. competitor, Lindsey Vonn, has enjoyed plenty of success there. Getty Images