ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Mexican slalom skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe chose a mariachi folk costume to lighten the mood at his sixth Winter Olympics, but the music came to a sudden stop when he found himself lying on his back in the snow.
Starting 111th in a vast field of 115, the 55-year-old was making stately progress down the Rosa Khutor piste when he suffered a spectacular wipeout, turning the crowd’s cheers to groans.
“I thought I was already down and then I think my skis kind of crossed and I hooked a tip or something,” said von Hohenlohe, a man of many parts who lives in Europe and plies his trade as a photographer and pop musician.
“That’s how it goes, I was just a little too much ahead with my thoughts.”
Most of those in the field were not even born when the son of German aristocratic parents took part in his first Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984. That was where he achieved his best result, 26th.
Since then, his performance has been heading downhill, so to speak, but his outfits have got steadily more outrageous.
Four years ago in Vancouver he skied in a desperado-style costume; in Sochi he sported a specially designed black suit imprinted with the white frills, red belt and necktie of a mariachi folk musician (though minus sombrero).
So what did he think he had proved by taking part?
“You can push boundaries if you have the vibe. If you are mentally fit and if you really want to pursue dreams, you can do it,” von Hohenlohe said. “Everything is possible in life.”
While reiterating that he did not want the “embarrassing record” of becoming the oldest ever Olympian, he laughingly left the door ajar to competing again in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in four years’ time.
“If anybody gives me good pills to stay young, I’ll do that,” he said. “And if Korea is nice enough.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford