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Back in Action : Skiing’s Racing Mahre Twins Make Competitive Comeback

From The Christian Science Monitor

It’s hard to imagine any athlete who exudes more self-confidence, more personal resourcefulness, than Phil Mahre, the former World Cup ski racing champion and Olympic gold medalist. And although it’s not quite as immediately visible, the same can be said of his 31-year-old twin brother, Steve.

Together they won 36 World Cup races, plus three Olympic and two world championship medals. By the time they retired from competition in 1984, they had established themselves beyond any question as the greatest U.S. ski racers ever.

So it’s not hard to understand why the promoters of U.S. professional ski racing became rapturous when the Mahres announced they would come out of retirement to race on their circuit this season. Suddenly, the twins from Yakima, Wash., are back in ski racing harness, and the press has rediscovered pro ski racing.

The whole thing is a turnaround for the Mahres, who pooh-poohed the pro circuit for years. So with not a great deal of training for the pro format, the brothers won two of their first four races. Last weekend at the Nashoba Valley ski area here, Steve was third in the $30,000 slalom. A week earlier, Phil won the slalom at Waterville Valley, N.H., and before that Steve won the opening slalom of the season at Park City, Utah.

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What has made the Mahres put on hold two of their first loves--flag football in the Yakima adult league and pro auto racing--and return to ski racing?

Money, of course. After the demise of their ski clothing line, they are reported to have substantial debts. And in the tough world of auto racing, Phil acknowledges that they’ve found it hard to acquire a sponsor. They certainly have interested ski racing sponsors. Their sponsorship deal along with prize winnings, appearances and endorsements should bring the twins a potential $400,000 this year.

“We told (our sponsors) if we’re not winning early, we’ll win eventually,” Phil Mahre said. We’re not losers; we’re winners. We’ll figure out a way to win, do whatever it takes.”


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