(Photo via Facebook)
Plenty of athletes will leave Sochi with a medal but only one of them will walk away with the title of "Most Interesting Olympian" if not the title of "Most Interesting Man in the World." Yes, the Dos Equis guy may have some real competition in Hubertus Von Hohenlohe. The only member of Team Mexico competing in these games (and the second oldest Winter Olympian ever), Von Hohenlohe descends from German royalty (though he now splits his time between Austria, Spain, Lichtenstein and Italy), hung out with Andy Warhol at Studio 54 and counts Karl Lagerfeld as a close friend. He's also an award-winning photographer and a pop star who's recorded under the names 'Royal Disaster' and 'Andy Himalaya.' And then there's the suit. Before the games even started, Von Hohenlohe caught everyone's attention with his now-famous mariachi ski suit that he officially debuted today while competing in the Alpine Skiing Men's Giant Slalom (he did not medal). Just before his big race, we were able to get the athlete on the phone from Sochi to hear what it's like for the Most Interesting Man in the World to be competing in his sixth Olympic games.
What's Sochi been like these past few weeks?
This place is much cooler than it was anticipated. That said, it's pretty much limited to where the venues are -- the Olympic park, the mountain resort, Rosa Khutor. The venues are really, really beautiful. The actual city itself is not so exciting -- people don't go out dining or partying like in other cities. But everything around the Olympic Games is really happening and really cool. There's amazing houses like the Austria House, Casa Italia, the USA House, the Swiss House. You can have different parties there. But the [whole scene] is a little Walt Disney/Las Vegas for Russians in sort of a tacky way. But at the same time it's completely impressive. Although you always get the feeling that these games should have been in 2016 and then it would have been amazing. They're just maybe two years two early -- it's not finished. But it's a good Olympics.
How have you found the skiing conditions?
It gets warm but then again, the potential of the hill is tremendous. It's definitely a ski resort that you can come to visit and it compares to anything, anywhere. High mountains, long runs. It's really much better than you would expect. It's like a Russian Aspen or Vail in the middle of the Black Sea, which is ridiculous.
Sochi is your sixth Olympics, correct?
Yes, it's my sixth Olympics. I missed out on three [Olympics] -- I could've competed in nine. Two times I didn't qualify. My first Olympics was in 1984 so thirty years ago, which is really, really long. So here I see people I've met before. There's this guy from Italy who's won six straight medals in six straight games. He's a luge guy. You meet him and go, "Oh my god. I also have six Olympics but I haven't won a medal." Then you also meet young guys that come up to you and ask you how these games compare to the others and what they have to do to enjoy them. I give them tips about what they have to look out for. A lot of people forget that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience normally -- or twice in a lifetime. You really have to inhale it all in and live it all out. If you come here and don't go to the Opening Ceremonies because you're waxing your skis, like this one boy from Belarus who told me that, I think, "Well, you can wax your skis another time but don't miss the Opening Ceremonies. You're never going to see this again." So some guys focus very much but they still lose seven or eight seconds in their run and come in 42nd and it would be better that they were 45th and their skis weren't so well-waxed but they saw the Opening Ceremony, which they'll take with them for the rest of their life.
Tell me about your famous mariachi ski suit.
It made its debut at this Olympics. The idea was that I wanted to be really Mexican this time around and since [I competed] in an evening race, I wanted to wear something really elegant like a tuxedo. So combining that idea with a folkloric Mexican [outfit], I thought I should wear what the mariachis wear when they sing for other people. It's been a tradition of mine to wear these great suits.
What goes on after competition? How have the parties been like?
If somebody gets a medal, all the fans and family get together. At the Austria house, they come and start partying and they have Austrian music and they dance and present the boyfriends and the sponsors. There was a scandalous party [one night] because the Austrian hockey team won a game and they partied 'til 6 in the morning and they had too much to drink and as a result they lost their game the next morning against Slovenia, which was a team they could have beat.
What are the other team houses like?
Casa Italia has good food, good ambience, good-looking, well-dressed people. The Swiss house is a mess -- it's all made out of wood and typical Swiss things and is always too crowded. The American house has high security -- it's intense and quite hard to get in. But it's been cool. It's a nice kind of experience to see all the different cultures like that. The only thing missing was a Mexican house. They should have done one if only for promotional reasons.
Has anything surprised you about these Olympic games?
I've been impressed by the friendliness of the volunteers and the people. They're very proud that they have the Olympics. I have so much respect for how much they work -- they work day and night -- the police and military everywhere. I'm amazed at how they've embraced this cause.