Mexico’s Only Winter Olympic Athlete: Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe

Prince Hubertus proudly posing in his mariachi-inspired ski suit.

Prince Hubertus proudly posing in his mariachi-inspired ski suit.

I’ll have been living in Mexico for 18 years, come this autumn. I have gone to football games (and I will not call it soccer), listened to local radio, read local papers and watched some local tv. In all this time, I cannot recall (with a 99% degree of certainty) ever having heard of Mexico sending representatives to a Winter Olympics. There is sometimes snow on the two dormant volcanos, Nevado de Toluca and Ixtaccihuatl but not enough to have a team training during the year.

Until this year. And the bizarre bit of it?

He has been competing for Mexico since 1984. Founding father of the Mexican Ski Federation, he competes in the Super G, giant slalom, downhill and slalom skiing events.

Prince Hubertus of Hohenlohe-Langenburg was born in Mexico City in 1959. His princess mother is the heiress of Fiat and his father is a Spanish prince and hotel baron. He is related to fashion designer, Diane von Fürstenberg, on his mother’s side and there are diplomats peppered throughout on his father’s side. His family tree reads like a history book and can be traced back to the 12th century in some parts.

Why the hell haven’t I heard about this guy before?

So I think of all the reasons people would disregard an athlete like Prince Hubertus and I have come to the conclusion that people confuse having a dream and a passion with lacking seriousness. Dreams don’t sell but marketing does. And a dream in Mexico can get lost on a beach, between margaritas and sunburns. Maybe the Olympic committee decided that they weren’t going to send a one-man team to the Turin Olympics in 2006 because they didn’t want an Eddie the Eagle on their hands. They didn’t want an exotic one-man Olympic team. Maybe they didn’t want to be laughed at. But I feel a certain sense of pride for a person who believes so much in what they do that they would be willing to be the one person who doesn’t have a group to be with and who is the only one representing a country that barely knows his name.

So in seven days, at the Sochi Olympics, behind the name card “Mexico”, there will be a 54-year-old man walking into the stadium. He will be alone among traditional winter sport power houses. He knows that there is little chance for podiums but wearing the mark of a true Olympian, he will go through with it and that, in itself, deserves a round of applause.

Hats off to you, your highness.

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