A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
The Austrian Ski Federation (OeSV) announced its women’s team for the 2013 World Championships in Schladming earlier today. Anna Fenninger, the defending combined gold medalist, and Elisabeth Goergl, the defending gold medalist in downhill and Super-G, will each compete in 4 events: downhill, Super-G, giant slalom, and combined. Kathrin Zettel and Michaela Kirchgasser will ski in 3 events: slalom, giant slalom, and combined. Veteran team member Nicole Hosp will compete in the slalom and combined events. The only other Austrian skier to qualify for more than one discipline in Schladming is Regina Sterz, whose performances this season in the downhill and Super-G events impressed her coaches and ski racing fans alike. But Regina Sterz remains a mystery to Austria and the rest of the world. Who is Regina Sterz and how did she make the mighty Austrian world championship team without anybody noticing her before? The Blickbild has an exclusive interview with Regina Sterz along with her teammates Anna Fenninger and Elisabeth Goergl and OeSV women’s head trainer Herbert Mandl.
BB: Regina, congratulations on making the world championship squad. You are the second best downhiller and fourth best in Super-G on the Austrian Power team this season and you deserve your place in the championships.
Sterz: Thank you. I am very happy that I can compete in the world championships in my home country.
BB: Do you feel more pressure because the championships are in Austria?
Sterz: No, not really. I would like to do well in front of the home fans. But I will concentrate on simply doing my best and will hopefully earn a medal.
Mandl: Regina is doing incredibly well for a World Cup rookie. It usually takes a skier at least two to three years of World Cup experience to make an impact. But Regina is in her first year and she has already impressed everyone. I see her becoming the next Austrian speed star.
Sterz: Excuse me, but I have been competing in World Cup races since 2007.
BB: I’m sorry, Regina, but our fact checkers at the Blickbild are the best in the world. We could find no record of anybody named Regina Sterz skiing as a junior for your club or on the Europa Cup circuit. You suddenly materialized on the World Cup tour without any prior record. That is very unusual. It may even be a first in Alpine skiing.
Mandl: You are right. I have never before had a skier who suddenly emerged on the World Cup without going through our junior team and spending time on the Europa Cup circuit before coming up to the World Cup. But it was like Regina walked onto our team out of nowhere and started performing well. I have never seen anything like this before and probably never will again.
Sterz: I did compete as a junior for my club and on the Europa Cup circuit. In fact, I have two Europa Cup wins and eight podiums.
BB: Anna, you will compete in four out of the five disciplines in Schladming. In which ones do you think you will have the best chances for a medal?
Fenninger: I would like to defend my title in the combined event. But I think that I have the best chances for a medal in either the giant slalom or Super-G.
BB: How prepared do you feel for the world championships in your country?
Fenninger: I feel very good physically, but there is one thing missing: my former teammate Regina Mader. She and I were good friends and I miss her. I wish that Regina Mader could also compete in Schladming.
Sterz: Hello! I was Regina Mader.
BB: According to our sources in Austria, Regina Mader vanished without a trace in the summer of 2012. Do any of you know if the police have made any progress in the investigation into her sudden disappearance?
Mandl: From what I have been told, the police are following several leads. One source in the police department said that Regina Mader had been kidnapped by a band of Gypsies and is travelling around Europe with them. This seems to be the most promising lead so far.
Goergl: I heard that she got burned out on racing and decided to move to an island in the South Pacific, where she opened a resort hotel.
Fenninger: I heard she got abducted by space aliens.
BB: It sounds like nobody really knows what really happened to Regina Mader. She was an integral part of the Austrian ski team one day and gone the next.
Sterz: Excuse me, but I can tell you exactly what happened to Regina Mader. I was her until last summer. Then I got married and changed my name to Sterz, which is my husband’s name.
BB: You do have a very strong resemblance to Regina Mader.
Mandl: Regina Sterz does really resemble Regina Mader in the way she skis. They both have the same style, strengths, and weaknesses.
Fenninger: Yes, Regina Mader and Regina Sterz really look like they could be sisters. If I didn’t know that they are two different people, I would have thought that they were twins.
BB: Herr Mandl, how often do you have two skiers who have the exact same style of skiing and the same strengths and weaknesses?
Mandl: In all of the years that I have been a trainer, I have never seen anything like it. Every skier that I have worked with has a different style. But both Reginas ski exactly alike. It is uncanny!
BB: What do you think of the coincidence that Regina Sterz suddenly appeared with the team at the exact time that Regina Mader disappeared? Here is the theory that the researchers from the Blickbild came up with. (looking at Regina and pointing at her) You killed Regina Mader! In order to cover up your crime and deflect attention from yourself as a murderer, you started calling yourself Regina Sterz.
Sterz: WHAT!?! I never killed anybody! Let me explain this one more time. I was Regina Mader until last summer, when I got married and changed my name to Sterz to honor my husband.
BB: Isn’t it customary for female skiers to hyphenate their names so that they are recognized by their fans? Look at Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden. They both got married and hyphenated their names.
Goergl: I have been competing on the World Cup circuit since 2000 and the skiers who get married hyphenate their names. Annemarie wasn’t simply Annemarie Moser after she got married; she was Annemarie Moser-Proell. She set the standard for all to follow.
Sterz: Lindsey Kildow became Lindsey Vonn without hyphenating her name. People still know who she is. Nobody made accusations of Lindsey being abducted by aliens or being a murderer when she changed her name after getting married.
Goergl: That’s because nobody in the States noticed that Lindsey changed her name. The only people in the States who follow ski racing are the racers’ families and a few of their good friends. But in Europe the fans follow everything that ski racers do and it’s important not to confuse them.
BB: You are absolutely correct, Lizz. To prepare for this interview I watched videotapes of the women’s races this year. None of the commentators on any channel could figure out who Regina Sterz was. I watched ORF, Eurosport in various languages, and all of the other European, North American, South American, African, Australian, and Asian sports channels. Now if a commentator, who is supposed to know everything, is confused, imagine how the average fan must feel.
Sterz: Most women take their husbands’ names when they get married. It’s a normal thing.
BB: Lizz, I would like to ask you about defending your titles in Schladming. Do you think you have a good chance of being “golden Lizz” in Schladming like you were in Garmisch two years ago?
Goergl: It will be hard because I am having a poor season and the other women are very good. Tina Maze will be especially hard to beat. If I win a medal, I will dedicate it to Regina Mader, wherever she is.
Sterz: I am right here. I simply changed my name from Mader to Sterz when I got married.
BB: Regina, that’s obviously a very sensitive topic with your teammates and we should stick to skiing and the upcoming world championships. What are the Austrians’ chances for medals in Schladming?
Mandl: Austria is ready to pick up where it left off in Garmisch and we hope to come away with many medals in Schladming. We have a very good chance to do that with our strong team. Our technical skiers aren’t here for this interview, but they are also very strong and should come away with medals. The home crowd should inspire our ladies to do their best.
BB: Best of luck in Schladming.
Goergl: Thank you. I hope to earn at least one medal in my home championships.
Fenninger: Thank you. I hope to have luck on my side and also win at least one medal in front of the home fans. Like Lizz, if I win a medal, I will also dedicate it to Regina Mader.
Sterz: I have two goals in Schladming. The first is to win a medal. The second is to end this confusion once and for all over who I really am. I never realized that the concept of a woman changing her name when she got married could be so complex. You’d think it was rocket science or quantum physics.
BB: And that concludes another exclusive Boston Blickbild interview. The Blickbild will be in Schladming reporting all of the action at the 2013 World Championships.
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