Skiing: Death 'gives fans a hero'

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The Independent Online
PATRICK ORTLIEB, the Olympic downhill champion and an Austrian team-mate of Ulrike Maier, who died after crashing at Garmish-Partenkirchen in Germany a week ago, said yesterday that World Cup Alpine skiing is a big- money sport, whose spectators feeds off thrills and spills and sometimes need a death. .

Fans and television audiences 'obviously wait for something like this', Ortlieb told the Austrian magazine, Profil. 'Sometimes the people need someone who dies, so they have a hero,' he said.

In an unvarnished analysis, Ortlieb said the World Cup ski circus was there to provide sensational television. 'Kitzbuhel is nothing more than a perfectly staged show,' he said of Austria's top downhill venue.

Spectacular accidents were replayed repeatedly 'in slow motion', overshadowing the actual race winner's run. Television 'lives off the crashes', he added. 'The fans want to have this show. Our sport lives off the fans.'