In case you ever wondered what those crazed fans actually buy, here it is:
10 most purchased Austrian ski star fan swag
1. Herminator Schnaps 800,000/year
2. Stephan Eberharter t-shirt 10,000 /year
3. Hermann Maier Calendar 7,000/year
4. Herminator baseball hat 5,000/year
5. Herminator t-shirt 3,000/year
6. Renata Gotschl calendar 2,000/year (so much for gender equity)
7. Benni Raich baseball hat 1,200/year
8. Herminator good luck pig 1,000/year
9. Pepi Strobl headband 600/year
10. Pepi Strobl skimutzen 600/year (the German translation stops here)
No Such Thing as Mad Calves
There is more than a little concern about mad cow disease for Americans traveling in Europe. But carnivores can have their wiener schnitzel and peace of mind too. The disease takes 32 months to develop in cows, so veal is not affected. Of course that means you have to come to terms ethically with the whole veal issue, and trust that this party line has some scientific basis.
So How Deep is This Team?
Qualifying for one of the four race spots in any event on the Austrian team is a victory unto itself. It takes a World Cup win, and sometimes even more than that to assure a spot. Even being named to the team doesn't mean you can compete. In downhill the Austrians typically train 6 racers and choose the best 4 after the final training run. Now the slalom racers are kept in the hot seat as well. In the combined slalom, Kilian Albrecht and Rainer Schoenfelder were vying for the final spot in Saturday's special slalom. The two were hundreths apart after the first one. Albrecht's second run appeared to be a winner, until he missed the second to last gate. Schoenfelder, next in the gate, could finally relax.
The Old College Try
Paul Casey Puckett got the biggest cheer afforded any non-Austrian in the second run of the combined slalom. After missing a gate he hiked, something not seen much outside the college racing circuit, but much appreciated by true sports fans.
You would expect the Austrians would not be very appreciative of Daron Rahlves spoiling the Austrian party in the super G. At least one newspaper, however, called Rahlves's victory the "Greatest gift for St. Anton." Indeed, Austrian victories are so common, that they are by now hardly newsworthy. An American victory on the other hand, brought a lot of attention from other countries to the World Championships. Nice bit of perspective, but it's unlikely they'll feel as "grateful" if an Austrian doesn't win the downhill.
All the King's Men, and Women
Alberto Tomba will be gracing these World Championships with an appearance later in the week. It seems he has recreational aspirations for his visit as well. He has requested for Friday a ski guide and two attractive blondes of specific dimensions. No kidding.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will also attend the competitions, and his requirements are a bit more extensive. Staying high on the Arlberg Pass in super posh St. Christophe, Putin will be protected by 70 of his own men and 40 Austrian policemen.