Austria ski officials, Fenninger resolve latest dispute
VIENNA (AP) Overall World Cup champion Anna Fenninger remained in the national team after she agreed to abide by sponsorship regulations, the Austrian ski federation said on Thursday.
''Anna has promised to observe all rules,'' federation president Peter Schroecksnadel said on the day of Fenninger's 26th birthday.
This week, she appeared in an advertising campaign for Mercedes, a rival brand of one of the governing body's main sponsors, Audi.
Austrian skiers are allowed individual commercial deals only when they do not conflict with the governing body's interests. Breaching the rules can lead to expulsion from the federation.
If Fenninger had not agreed, she would still have been granted a license by the federation to compete for Austria, but she would have had to arrange and finance her own coaching and medical staff.
Schroecksnadel, who called Fenninger a ''super athlete, a national hero,'' regarded her German manager Klaus Kaercher as the instigator for the ongoing quarrel about commercial rights, adding the federation had broken all ties with him.
''I don't want to have to deal with him ever again,'' Schroecksnadel said.
A spokesman for Fenninger said the skier wouldn't comment on the issue for at least the next three days, but her management later released a statement, saying ''Anna Fenninger will still be represented and managed by the Vitesse Kaercher agency.''
Schroecksnadel said he met with Fenninger in an attempt to clear the air on Wednesday. The meeting was arranged by Rainer Salzgeber, race director with Fenninger's equipment supplier, Head.
''Salzgeber knew it was important that Anna remained part of the team,'' Schroecksnadel said. ''Without the federation's facilities and without good training, Anna wouldn't be able to get the same results she has been getting for years now.''
Schroecksnadel said Fenninger also apologized for firmly criticizing the president in a posting on her Facebook page late Tuesday.
Fenninger and the federation had been quarreling for months about the skier's manager, and about her wish to have one of the team physicians working exclusively for her. Fenninger quit a national training camp in Cyprus in May, and even threatened to leave the federation if she was forced into parting ways with Kaercher.
After a meeting last week, which Schroecksnadel didn't attend, both parties released a joint statement saying they reached an agreement to share the costs for additional physiotherapy staff, and that ''existing misunderstandings and communication problems have been disposed once and for all.''
On Monday, however, the disputed car ad appeared in an Austrian weekly magazine. Since then, Mercedes said it has ceased the campaign.
Fenninger has won four gold medals and eight in total at Olympics and world championships. She has won 14 World Cups, and been overall champion in the past two seasons.