BREAKING NEWS: Resi Stiegler cleared to compete with tiger earsSAN SICARIO, Italy – Ski Racing magazine’s I-Team (special investigations unit) has learned that the three-day drama surrounding U.S. Ski Teamer Resi Stiegler’s helmet ears has come to a dramatic conclusion.
USSA athletic director Alan Ashley initiated a series of meetings between the heavy hitters in the sport of alpine racing, and Thursday evening, word came down that the USOC, the IOC, the FIS and TOROC have given approval for Wyoming up-and-comer Stiegler to don her trademark tiger ears atop her race helmet during these Games. The lengthy process involved submitting photographs of the tiger ears and receiving a letter of approval from the governing bodies.
The pope, though in Italy, either for the Games or because his house is in Rome, was not summoned to handle the dispute, although it is not clear if he was next in line if USSA and Stiegler struck out with the IOC.
Stiegler, considered a rising star on the technical side, is slated to compete in the women’s combined event, which begins Friday morning with a downhill and concludes with two runs of slalom. Stiegler, a strong slalom skier, finished sixth in the event at the 2005 World Championships. At just 17 years of age, she placed 10th in the combined at the 2003 worlds.
At issue was whether the tiger ears, which have endeared Stiegler to racing crowds across the world, fell under the corporate sponsorship umbrella. Athletes are not allowed to wear sponsor insignias or labels on any equipment during the Games, outside the official Olympic sponsor pool.
In the past, the fun-loving Stiegler has raced with pink bunny ears attached to her helmet. Her helmet ears gained widespread appeal thanks partly to the Waxroom — Ski Racing magazine’s infamous lighter side look at the sport.
Thousands of calls to Stiegler’s cell phone were not immediately returned at midnight Italy time. But “relief,” “elation” and “darn right they approved them” were likely responses from the 2005 Ski Racing Junior of the Year.