Austrians honor 1931 British skiing champ

Jan. 16, 2006 at 7:42 PM

KITZBUHEL, Austria, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The organizers of Austria's Hahnenkamm, a tough combination slalom and downhill race, have named a cup after the only British skier to win the event.

The Hahnenkamm is said to be the toughest event in the World Cup.

Gordon "Mouse" Cleaver, who later became a decorated pilot in World War II, was the 1931 champion at Kitzbuhel, the Telegraph reports. This year, to mark the 75th anniversary of his skiing triumph and of the Hahnenkamm, the top British skier will win the Cleaver Cup.

Cleaver and other upper class Britons who became interested in alpine skiing in the 1930s helped to make the sport popular. He convinced Austrians that the British must have an over-supply of brilliant skiers since he was not even on the national team.

During World War II, Cleaver, who died in 1994, was seriously wounded when his plane was shot down. One of his competitors in 1931 was Roger Bushell, later a World War II pilot who became the model for Roger Bartlett, the escape organizer played by Richard Attenborough in the movie "The Great Escape."

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