Sport: Slippery Days on the Slopes

Though the world Alpine ski championship is nominally an amateur affair, the spectacle staged in Val Gardena, Italy, last month looked more like the world ski-trade fair. With their equipment splashily plastered with brand names, contestants paraded before the TV cameras like walking commercials. For a $400-a-month payoff, one entrant sported the badge of a resort he has never even seen. After winning the special slalom, France's Jean-Noel Augert shouted "Vive Le Courbier!"—a hard-sell pitch for a ski resort in which, as he put it, "I am investing all my savings."

Billy...

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