Where he's laughing, you can feel free to sit down - near Lichtenstein's Marco Büchel there's no time for lamenting. Thursday, March 11, 2010, was Büxi' Büchel's last Alpine Ski World cup race and he celebrated his last appearance with style.
A career that has brought four World Cup race wins and a world championships silver medal in giant slalom came to a close on Thursday, March 11, 2010 after the men's Alpine Skiing World Cup Super G race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, seven years after his super G victory at the same place.
The charming, bearded rebel, who may possibly be the most popular man on the circuit, announced earlier this season that he will retire from professional competition after the Finals in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. His plan was for the last race to dress up in something special and go waving down the hill and that is exactly what he did. To be precise, the 38-year-old ran the super G as a gentleman in a custom-made suit and tie, in bermuda shorts, and stopped midway down the run to chat with some fans.
In Vancouver, the skier from Liechtenstein became the first alpine skier to start in six Olympics. Buechel has won four speed World Cup races in his career, including two downhills (at Lake Louise in 2006 and Val Gardena/Groeden in 2005) and two super Gs (at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 2003 and Kitzbuehel in 2008). In Kitzbuehel, Buechel wrote history with his victory in the super G IN 2008, becoming the oldest FIS World Cup winner yet at the age of 36. In his farewell season, the likeable downhill racer also achieved a career-best result in the historic Lauberhorn race coming in third -- his last start on the storied, challenging Alpine hill.
However, number don't really do Buechel , with his tough guy looks and a passion for cruising on his Harley Davidson, justice. He, who is known for joking with fellow racers or the media is better defined over gestures, jokes and emotions.
After the race today, he started his last round of interviews, holding in his hand an over dimensional glas of beer that was reminiscent of Bayern Munich soccer parties.
On Saturday, a Charity-Gala organized by the ski association of Liechtenstein and Right to Play will be held in honor of Buechel.
Good news to those who are sad about Buechel's retirement: he will be returning to the scene of crime next season as a skiing expert, commenting the World Championship races at Garmisch-Partenkirchen for ZDF. This way, he will stay close to the ski circuit, which has after 20 years of World Cup racing not lost any of its fascination for Buechel.
"My heart's still in it, I've skied my whole life," he said. "Now everything's going to change, but I think it's a very good decision to stop now. I think it's time," the 38-year-old added finishing today's race at 59.23sec back but with the crowd cheering him on the whole way down the course. "I always wished it would end like this that the people can celebrate with me" he said.