Editor’s Note: Editor’s note: Read this article in Spanish at CNNMéxico.com
Hubertus von Hohenlohe will ski for Mexico at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
Of Germany royal descent, he was born while his parents were in Mexico on business
In 1981 Von Hohenlohe founded the Mexican Federation of Winter Sports
The 55-year-old will be competing in his sixth Winter Olympics
“Con dinero y sin dinero, hago siempre lo que quiero…” Hubertus von Hohenlohe, the Mexican athlete and a descendant of German royalty hums the chorus of the popular Mexican song El Rey (The King) while he proudly shows off his Mariachi suit photos, which he will wear on the Sochi slopes at the Winter Olympics..
“For me it was never a doubt, I knew that I wanted to ski and to compete for Mexico; I was convinced from the beginning that this is my country,” Von Hohenlohe told CNNMéxico.
Although he has more European royalty than Mexican blood running through his veins, Von Hohenlohe is considered “an ambassador in style,” for being the only athlete that will represent Mexico in the Winter Games.
“It’s a lot of pride and a great responsibility,” said the veteran skier.
“We (in Mexico) are 100 million people and the only chance we have (of winning a medal) is up to me, but we don’t have to look at it like that, you have to see it as I’m an ambassador of this country, an ambassador with style and a human force that goes beyond the result, “
Being born in Mexico was a matter of luck for Von Hohenlohe, who is the son of the Prince and Princess of Wurttemberg, a century old kingdom that ruled Germany – when there was still a monarchy in that country.
His father, the late Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe-Langenburg and mother, Princess Ira of Fürstenberg were in Mexico in a business related trip at the time of their son’s birth.
In 1981 Von Hohenlohe founded the Mexican Federation of Winter Sports and since 1984 he has competed in the Olympics under Mexico’s flag, participating in Calgary 1988, Albertville 1992 and Lillehammer 1994.
In Vancouver 2010, after a long absence, Von Hohenlohe returned to the Olympics in the disciplines of slalom and giant slalom, when he became the oldest athlete to participate in the Winter Games as a 51-year-old.
This year, the priority for the “Mexican prince” of nearly 55 years, is not achieving results but to create among his countrymen a passion for winter sports.
“It’s not about monitoring my time, but to be there; to ignite young people’s dreams that want to do the same, to represent Mexico in winter or summer,” says Von Hohenlohe, who qualified for the games after sneaking into the International Ski Federation (FIS) slalom category ranking.
For his new Olympic adventure – he insists it’s the last one– Von Hohenlohe will combine his two passions: the sport and music by wearing a special Mariachi suit.
A form of folk music from Mexico, Mariachi songs – often played on festive occasions by groups of guitar, violin and trumpet performers wearing traditional clothes or wide-brimmed hats – are sung throughout the country, and have become a key part of regional identity
The athlete, who also happens to be a singer, says he will wear his flamboyant uniform to reaffirm his Mexican pride.
“I am someone that when I go on stage I think about less important things that, at the end, provide some flavor, that promote a country, that sell an image, sell a story and since I ski, I will not generate much interest and many news for Mexico; it is important for Mexico to be there and for people to value (the country’s presence), ” he says.
Mexico, a country with little or no tradition in winter sports has slowly increased its presence in these kinds of competitions and in 2012 Joshua Montiel Santander competed in the skeleton category in the Innsbruck Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Von Hohenlohe believes that the only way to encourage Mexican athletes to compete in such disciplines is to look beyond borders.
“Many Mexicans live in Canada or the United States. We have to find them; train them. They need to have a certain dexterity; skiing has to be in their blood; it has to be something natural for them,” he said.
Although the seasoned athlete recognizes that the monetary costs to practice some winter sports can be prohibitive, Von Hohenlohe also believes that it is possible to become involved in the sport if you are “creative” and have a support system.
Whle the build up to Sochi has had its fair share of negative headlines, Von Hohenlohe expressed his regret that the sporting event is being used as a political platform.
“The games are going to be an influence and Russia will realize they have to change, They have created a mega galactic event, everybody will come and celebrate the sport, they deserve it.”
Although Sochi 2014 will be his last event, Von Hohenlohe will keep on supporting the young athletes who dream on qualifying for the Winter Olympics
The Mexican Olympic Committee reported on its website that the Head of Mission for Mexico Carlos Pruneda and Von Hohenlohe are in discussions to work on a scouting project that aims to build a strong team for the next Winter Games.
As well as sport though Von Hohenlhe plans to eedicate his time to music and photography.
“I’m already doing a lot in art, in music, photography, TV documentaries and I have to focus on these to achieve what I’ve reached with skiing,” said Von Hohenlohe, who has participated in television series and produced Hubertusjagd, a TV documentary that according to IMDB was released in Austria on May 2011.
In the late 80’s, Hohenlohe took a break of his sporting career to venture in the music business.
The Mexican prince has recorded a couple of albums, with most of his songs are in German.
But first he is planning to visit the Garibaldi Square, located at the center of Mexico City, to write Mariachi songs on his ski helmet.