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January 10, 2007

"Luckily it wasn't cold!"

I went skiing a few years ago, my first and only time. And by "skiing" I mean that I took a class and went down the beginners' slope three times (or was it only twice?). For me, the scariest thing was going up in the ski lift -- I have acrophobia -- and dropping off at the top. Going down wasn't too bad, even for a beginner like me. Gravity helps.

I learned today how the experts ski: Without any clothes. (hat tip: Soccer Dad) By the way, remember this: "We're professionals; don't try this at home."

WENGEN, Switzerland -- Austrian World Cup skier Rainer Schoenfelder put the warm weather conditions in Europe to a true test on Wednesday when he went on a naked ski run alongside the famed Lauberhorn downhill course.

The 29-year-old two-time Olympic bronze medalist and part-time pop musician was photographed skiing down a practice site wearing only his skis, ski boots and an orange helmet.

In a statement on his Web site, Schoenfelder said the streak had been part of a dare with his physiotherapist who had been helping the skier with an injury sustained during a training crash last week.

Schoenfelder said he told his physio he would ski naked if his pains had eased by Wednesday morning.
Instead of just posting about the story, I figured my readers expected more. So I began looking into the incident and discovered that Schoenfelder has his own website, in German. If you click on the right link, you get to his discussion of this incident, titled "Hatte Wette einzulösen - zum Glück war es nicht kalt!" Which means, roughly, "Had a bet to pay off - luckily it wasn't cold!" (I'll say.)

From his discussion: "'Wettschulden sind Ehrenschulden - da fahrt die Eisenbahn drüber!', sagt Rainer Schönfelder." The first half of this seems to be a saying -- "Bet obligations are honor-obligations." The second half is another saying -- sort of literally "there the train track runs over it." I had to look that up (scroll down through the good stuff).

Now, the one thing I couldn't find, and I'm not going to look any further, is the photo that allegedly is circulating of his escapade. As the ESPN/Reuters article puts it: "'Somehow I didn't notice the photographer,' Schoenfelder said. 'It was a private bet and of course the whole thing wasn't planned for the public.'" Make sure to use that excuse the next time you jog naked through Central Park. As the Austrian men's head coach Toni Giger said, "Personally I don't have any problem with nudity, but this was an unannounced action at a public event, so we might have to have a word with him."