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"You have given your word," the baron reminded him.
"That's true," said Moritz, "but I'm only 19—a minor—so you must ask my mother."
His mother was delighted. So, after a restless night, Moritz left with the baron for Cortina. When they showed up at the head of the run, its icy trough gleamed wickedly in the early sunlight.
"It's not really just like motorcycles," he muttered gloomily.
The brakeman, 23-year-old Weltin Wolfinger, who was also seeing a bob run for the first time, maintained a morbid silence.
Only the baron was undismayed.
"There they were," he related afterward, reveling in the memory. "The Liechtenstein team gloriously standing on a bobsled run for the first time in their lives. Then the officials waved them on. The silence that fell over the whole bobsled run was the most impressive thing I have ever lived through."
Only the voice of the loudspeaker cracked the stillness. "They are at Stries [the first bend]," the speaker boomed. "Now they are at the Labyrinth, they are past Bandion, past Antelao, past Cristallo, past the final bend." A single shout went up from all over the hillside. Liechtenstein had arrived at the finish.
The baron rushed to ask his men how it had been. Moritz spoke thus: "Every curve I try not to go off. It's my only idea. Go good, but not off and over." Brakeman Wolfinger reported: "It was trees and trees and trees. I was petrified. But Moritz kept shouting 'Brake! Brake!' So I put on the brake." Dourly, bobsled officials concluded that he had dug his brakes so thoroughly into the crust of the run that it might never be the same. They ordered Liechtenstein to run last. "Then," said the committeemen, "it doesn't matter if you spoil the track."
Indeed it did not. In the final trials, Liechtenstein finished last among 25 nations. But in the actual Olympic competition a few days later, in the race for the gold medal, the baron's faith was repaid. At the end of three official heats Liechtenstein had bested the second sled of Norway, a traditional winter sports giant. It was a cruel blow when their final run was canceled on the grounds that the track was by then too cut up But the Liechtensteiners stood up bravely, for as far as they had gone, they had beaten someone. In the fine phrase of the Olympic oath, they had achieved glory and honor for their land.