Recent races in Austria were a milestone for the German ski cross team. Two members qualified for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February. The Germans now have a poster boy, and possibly several poster girls, for the newest, most dangerous and exciting sport at the Winter Olympics.

He might be one of Germany’s best medal hopes for the upcoming Winter Olympics but he still has to explain his jokes — especially the one about the padded cell. “Now I need a padded cell,” ski-cross champion Simon Stickl joked straight after winning a race in Austria in early January that made him the first German male to qualify for the ski-cross event at the upcoming Winter Olympics. Four female skiers have also qualified. Nobody could figure out Stickl’s joke. “In the team, we always made jokes about locking ourselves away as soon as we had qualified for the Olympics,” Stickl told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “Just so that nothing could happen to us. Because our sport is so dangerous.”

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