Carol Hills: Mexico's delegation in Sochi includes one lone athlete. Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe is a slalom skier, and yes, he's descended from European royalty, but he was born in Mexico and has represented that country at four previous winter games. This time, though, he's getting some extra attention because of his mariachi-inspired ski suit. The prince's first Olympics were back in 1984, in Sarajevo, 30 years ago.
Hubertus von Hohenlohe: Here I am, you know. I mean, skiing is a demanding, tough sport, and I'm happy that I'm kind of able to still qualify and compete, and have those amazing emotions that you have when you're in the games.
Hills: I know you are Mexican by birth, but most of your life has been spent in Europe and a lot of it skiing. When did you get serious about Alpine skiing?
von Hohenlohe: My father had a very nice hotel in Marbella, which was kind of a frivolous jet-set place. And he thought that if we grew up there, we could end up, you know, in trouble with drugs and drinking, and so he decided to take us to Austria, to some schools. And they were kind of grey and boring, especially in the winter, and the only thing that brightens up the life was ski racing on TV. So I looked at those, you know, races, and said, "I should try that." So I got into little ski clubs and starting to want to make races, and from there, 81, I was ready for big time skiing and I, you know, called Mexico and said, "I'm a really cool skiier, I would like to do some World Cups." And there I was, standing on some World Cup races, and that led to the 1984 Olympics.
Hills: So you first started out as a genuine competitor at the Olympics. Of course, you still are a genuine competitor...
Hills: At what point did...
von Hohenlohe: Well, but yeah, I'm not an Olympic tourist, that's for sure. No, I was fifth in one World Cup race, 82. And I had some good results in the beginning, I mean, I did all the difficult downhills. So you cannot compare me with the beginning of the Jamaican bobsled team, or Eddy the Eagle.
Hills: Exactly. You're much more than a novelty. But I guess what I'm curious about, is at what point did you say, "Okay, I'm over the hill in terms of being a serious competitive skier, but I'm just gonna keep going back to the Olympics."
von Hohenlohe: It was 1994, Lillehammer. I had a really good downhill, I was like only 5-6 seconds back of Tommy Moe. And I said, you know, "This was a great kind of achievement, I love it, and I'm just gonna go on skiing normally." And you know, every time I saw a course set somewhere, I said, "Oh, I wanna go through the course." And I don't know, I just kept going. And actually, as you know, the big mistake is that everybody thinks I was like collecting Olympic starts. But in the end, it's not like that. I mean, I just ski 'cause I love to ski, and the Olympics came on the way. Took 30 years that the Mexicans are not only sending me, but they're kind of proud. And you know, with also the suit that I made now, they kind of embrace me. Some criticize it, but mostly we are an embraced Olympic delegation.
Hills: Yeah, I've seen pictures of your suit. It's pretty amazing. Describe it for us.
von Hohenlohe: The idea was that I was combining the folkloric touch of Mexico with the elegant look of a prince on the hills, that necessarily is not anymore the fastest and the strongest, but kind of the most stylish one. And I read somewhere, "style will be remembered long after results are forgotten." So this is my motto. [Laughs]
Hills: The suit is designed to be a mariachi singer.
von Hohenlohe: It's called charro, and the charro's suit is worn by mariachis, and ours is kind of the elegant version of it. The one like they wore in â€œLos Tres Amigos.â€
Hills: Hubertus, you turn 55 on Sunday. I think I read it makes you either the oldest or the second oldest Olympian in history. I imagine when you show up at the Olympics, you run into veteran ski racers from various countries. Maybe Franz Klammer, or Hermann Maier, and you know, they retired years ago and you're still at the Olympics. Do you ever get those encounters?
von Hohenlohe: Yeah, yeah. I spoke with Franz Klammer. It was funny 'cause I said to him, "Oh my god, you know, did your body start hurting after 50 or what happened?" And he said, "Well, you know, you just have to go for it. Because I mean, my Olympic racing was sheer quality, but yours is sheer quantity." So I had a laugh.
Hills: Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe, he'll represent Mexico. In fact, he's the only athlete from Mexico at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Thank you so much.
von Hohenlohe: Yes, thank you.
Hills: Check out the Prince's mariachi ski suit, PRI.org. Oh, and Prince Hubertus is also a pop singer, as you can hear. This is his single, "I Want Pop."
Hills: This is PRI.
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