By Wolfgang Winheim
WENGEN, Switzerland, January 13, 2007 - Austria’s men’s head coach Toni Giger didn’t want to take a position on the “streaker of Lauberhorn’s” flit past the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting) camera. And Rainer Schönfelder's nude stunt on the Lauberhorn downhill course gave his PR-Agent Michael Holzer a sleepless night. At three in the morning television networks from around the world were calling to ask not only about the naked appearance (the result of a bet with his physiotherapist), but what exactly was plastered on his backside for all the world to see!
And so it seem that the sports world apparently has no great problems to deal with at the moment other than that of the apocryphal revelation: it is not an advertising logo, rather, a tattoo in the form of two little devils that the former top student from Stams had etched into his behind during his high school days.
With helmet and without trousers, the snapshot of the ski-Adam from Kärntner now has the best possible chance to be chosen as the next sports photo of the year. The Graz agency GEPA can hardly deal with the influx of international requests. Even the print media from Mexico, Cyprus and Hungary printed the naked image - newspapers who have never once reported the results of the world championship ski race!
Schönfelder swears he did not see the camera and that it was not a PR stunt. His comrades find it hard to believe their showman.
However, Schönfelder will pay for his strip act and will do a day’s work for a charity organization, as prescribed by Austria’s alpine director, Hans Pum, who has received a stream of emails since the “fine” was made public - all with suggestions of a suitable charity organization.
And Pum has handled this matter of the highest moral order diplomatically and correctly. It can’t be treated as if nothing happened – the sensation caused is far too big to ignore. Schönfelder’s little act of mischief caused a huge uproar, as often happens on the ski-racing circuit when racers confuse the road for a downhill piste - those guys actually endanger other people. Schönfelder’s stunt caused nobody harm, it just created a huge media presence – even in the New York Times!
Even so, the “sinner” finds his new media presence a little problematic: “because achievement is not sufficient enough any more.”
AIPS Media wishes to thank GEPA for making the photograph of Schönfelder's nude run down the Lauberhorn available for publication on this website.