World Championships’ most interesting man
VAIL — Prince Hubertus’ autobiography is succinct.
“I was born in Mexico, raced in Spain and f—ed up in Austria,” he said smiling.
Forget the guy in the beer commercial. Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe is the world’s most interesting man.
Von Hohenlohe is 56 and has competed in six Olympics and 16 Alpine World Ski Championships beginning in 1982 — all for Mexico — including this one. That makes him the only competitor to race in all three Vail/Beaver Creek World Championships: 1989, 1999 and now 2015.
He’s easy to spot in his white mariachi race suit, which he says is a nod to Vail’s Sarah Schleper, who’s also skiing for Mexico, and a tribute to Mexico and its people.
At the Vancouver Olympics, he was resplendent in a desperado race suit, sporting images of pistols and bandoleros. His helmet sports 14 stickers depicting him in his many racing suits.
In spite of it all, he actually seems pretty humble. He just does stuff people like to look at.
Why he’s THAT interesting
Von Hohenlohe is fluent in five languages and is the heir to an automobile fortune. His father introduced Volkswagen into Mexico.
He’s an artist who befriended Andy Warhol at Studio 54 and a musician with eight records to his credit. He’s also a photographer, and one of his exhibits was titled “It’s Me!” Every photo featured him.
And he’s a prince, truly. He’s a descendant of the royal family of a German principality that hasn’t existed for more than two centuries, but he still gets to call himself Prince Hubertus, and don’t lie, you would too.
It appears he is descended from Kaiser Franz II, the last Holy Roman emperor.
“It’s an interesting thing. If you only do one thing at a time, you can get old and stale,” he said.
One-man ski federation
He was born in Mexico and says he’s about one-eighth Mexican, which is enough. It’s said he keeps a home in Cabo San Lucas.
He grew up in and lives in Austria, and he won his university downhill. But people older than 50 don’t get to race for Austria, the world’s strongest ski team, and neither does almost anyone else. Von Hohenlohe is nothing if not resourceful.
In 1981, he founded the Mexican Ski Federation, which was a one-man operation for a long time. Later, the Mexicans founded their own and now he skis for them. So does Schleper, and several hopeful young alpine racers.
His Olympic career began in 1984 in Sarajevo where he finished 38th in the slalom — his best Olympic finish
He says he has no chance of medaling in these World Championships.
“I have no chance whatsoever. I’m not good enough for that,” he said.
But that’s not the point, he quickly adds. He loves what he’s doing, so he keeps doing it.
“I’m here to create awareness for all the Mexicans who live in Vail that it’s fun to ski race,” he said. “I never overdosed because I never skied very much. I am the role model of an amateur racer.”
He’s happy to be here, but not thrilled with the International Ski Federation (FIS), World Cup ski racing’s governing body.
“Since I started ski racing, the small nations have been pushed off to the side,” von Hohenlohe said. “For a World Championships, the spice is that you have people like me competing.”
Having the same top 30 people all the time makes it like any other World Cup race, he said.
“I know it’s all done for TV, but if TV doesn’t want to show it, they can switch to showing something else,” he said.
He’s training all week in Vail for this week’s qualifying events in Vail.
“Despite all the rules, we’re still having fun and being a role model for people doing sport at a higher age,” he said. “You are able to do sport at a high age if you really want to.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.