Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Suicide of Cibele Dorsa & What It Means for Athina

I never met Athina. Or Cibele. Or any of the parties involved. But I have a pretty good hunch that the two wives of Doda were not close. Yet for the eight years, Athina has been a mama in all but biology to Cibele's ten-year-old daughter, Vivianne, and for the past maybe two years, she has also been a quasi-mama to Cibele's pre-teenage son, Fernando. And now that Cibele has ended her life, Athina is more solidly their mama for the long haul. I believe it is her natural role. Athina, after all, was raised by Gaby, and just as Gaby fulfilled the maternal role for half-orphaned Athina, Athina is ready and willingly to pay it forward.

Even Cibele must have known, deep down, that there couldn't be a better stepmother for Vivianne and Fernando. Fernando, not even Doda's biological son, wanted to go live with Athina & Doda in Belgium, "to learn about football," it was said in the Brazilian media. No doubt Fernando also missed his sister, but the fact is, a boy who would rather live with his stepfather than his own mother can't be leaving behind much to envy. Cibele "agreed" to the arrangement, it has been reported, now even in the English-language press. Even in photos, one can see the emotional torture, or car wreck, that was undoubtedly Cibele's life. One could see that she was not a well woman. There was something very tormented about her image. I can't define it, but I could see there was something unwell there. So it doesn't surprise me to read now in the Daily Mail that she couldn't cope with the downswing or the lonliness that came at night after her boyfriend's suicide. She didn't have her kids' laughter to wake her out of that black hole. She probably had some so-called 'friends' who were clueless on how to help a woman battling I-can't-imagine-what-kind-of mental and/or emotional illness. She may have done what Athina's bio-mom, Christina, did -- turned to men, or food, or drugs, or alcohol only to find that those things are distractions, not cures. Who better to help the children of emotional/mental anguish than Athina, herself a child of one of the most tortured socialites of the 20th century? This touches on one of the many reasons why I admire Athina. She chooses to live from her heart, loving her husband, her kids, and her horses. She turns away from the emptiness that swallowed up Christina and Cibele. God bless you, Athina, and thank you. You are a light of the world, making those who know you feel a little bit more sunshine, and teaching the rest of us what life can look like when we let go of ego.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Athina in Zurich

CSI Mercedes Benz, Zurich, Switzerland

Friday, 28 January 2011
  1. Hallenstadion Opening Competition against the clock over 1m35 obstacles: Athina jumped Uceline. Their rank was 16 out of 74 riders. The top 19 took some prize. Athina took 200 CHF, or "Swiss Francs." She had 0 penalties and a speed of 50.34 seconds. This competition was a qualifier for the Mercedes Jump & Drive later the same day. Athina was not a participant in it.
Saturday, 29 January 2011 (Athina's 26th birthday!)
  1. Liebherr Prize, against clock in two phases, 1m50 jumps: Athina jumped Uceline for just the first phase. 4 penalties, speed 42.62 seconds. Rank #32/50 riders. Did not qualify for Phase 2. Doda did Phase 2 and ranked @ #18, but only the top 14 got prize money. Doda and Norson had five penalties and were just a hair faster than Athina. 
Sunday, 30 January 2011
  1. Non-participation. 
Brazilian Equestrians: Olympic Equestrians of Brazil, Alvaro de Miranda Neto, Rodrigo Pessoa, Bernardo Alves, Nelson Pessoa

Athina's new Belgian home is in the Belgian press again

Click to see picture and article @
 Athina and Doda bought this house last summer, as reported in this blog, for 2.4 million euros. It is in Oud-Turnhout, which is a suburb of Antwerp. The house is situated in the residential district of Oud-Turnhout known as Lint. Athina and Doda will simply move north from their old home in Fleurus, which is near Brussels. This new location puts them a bit closer to their "AD" stables in Valkenswaard, Netherlands. Athina and Doda might want to brush up on Flemish, which is dominant in this part of Belgium, whereas the Brussels area is more French. But according to the Belgian "Standard" (Standaard) newspaper, yesterday there was a fire @ the house. Athina and Doda have not actually moved in yet, as the house is still being renovated with necessary security systems. But in any case, yesterday's fire was quickly extinguished and everything seems to be fine. Tomorrow Athina turns 26. She and Doda are now jumping in Zurich, Switzerland. 

P.S. A later report from Greece dated 13 FEB 2011 (and erroneously referring to "yesterday's" fire mentions that the fire started in the kitchens and was rooted in the electrical circuiting. 

Athina's 2011 Projected Equestrian Schedule

*Dates and events will be changed or added for this list as they become known or corrected.
  1. CSI Basel, Switzerland (13-16 January)
  2. CSI Zurich, Switzerland (28-30 January)
  3. Jumping de Bordeaux (4-6 February)
  4. CSI Vigo, Spain (11-13 February)
  5. The Global Champions Tour's opening event in Doha, Qatar (17-19 March)
  6. Toscana Tour (22-27 March/29 March-3 April/5-10 April)
  7. Jumping Antwerpen (21-24 April)
  8. Jump Bost Tour 2 @ Fontainebleau (29 April-1 May)
  9. The GCT Valencia (6-8 May) or Jump Bost @ Fontainebleau Tour 3 (5-8 May)
  10. The GCT Hamburg (1-5 June) or CSI Bourg-en-Bresse (2-5 June)
  11. GCT Cannes (9-11 June)
  12. GCT Monte-Carlo (23-25 June)
  13. GCT Estoril (1-2 July)
  14. GCT Chantilly (22-24 July)
  15. GCT Valkenswaard (12-14 August)
  16. GCT Rio de Janeiro (2-4 September)
  17. Jump Bost @ Barbizon Tour 4 (9-11 September)
  18. GCT Torino, aka Turin (22-25 September)
  19. Jump Bost @ Fontainebleau Tour 5/Finale (7-9 October)
  20. GCT Abu Dhubi (10-12 November)
  21. Jumping de Nantes (25-27 November)
  22. Jumping de Paris/Salon du Cheval
  23. The Gucci Masters
check back soon for more accurate and more complete timetable

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Last Onassis and the Half-Blood Princess

As far back as 1992, they were classed together in the media. People magazine (US version) put the two girls, along with the Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin, on its cover to illustrate a feature entitled "Silver Spoons." The Grimaldi expert Michelle Green told readers about the "moppets" who are "richer than Midas," yet still had to mind their P's and Q's, "say please and finish their peas." Other Silver Spoon kids discussed in Green's feature were Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis and his sisters, Elisabeth and Maria Theresia; Prince al-Muhtadee Billah of Brunei; Prince William and Prince Harry of Wales; and the children of King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan. Ever since then, the celebrity-royal-watching media has highlighted every occasional encounter between Athina and Charlotte. The two equestriannes have been generally portrayed as the ideal pair of Amazonas (a Spanish term basically meaning a young, beautiful ingenue). As friends, they would be a Dream Team. As nemeses, they would pave the way for all kinds of comparisons to their respective grandfathers, Prince Rainier and Aristotle Onassis, whose feud in the 1950s resulted in the latter gentleman's banishment from Monaco forever.

Alas... are they enemies? No. Are they friends? Maybe. Probably. Are the best friends? No, not quite. "Friendly acquaintances" probably states the case more accurately. They like each other. They amuse each other on those random occasions when they happen to cross paths in the equestrian community.

The so-called "Grimaldi expert" Zara Rivera once reported that Charlotte gave Athina the "evil eye." The occasion, said Rivera, was the 7th International Jumping de Monte Carlo in April 2001. I find this report hard to swallow. It reeks of tabloid distortion for profitable drama. By that time, the tabloid media already liked to seize every opportunity to link the "last Onassis" and the half-blood Grimaldi "princess." Also in April 2001, an Italian magazine called them the two most envied and photographed adolescents. Reporting on the Monaco jumping event, the magazine declared that they both met with great humiliations at the event. Athina's horse, Lara, refused to jump and Athina ended up soaring over a fence and landing on her backside. Charlotte rode her grey-white gelding, Tempête du Midi, onto the arena and successfully overtook the same fence, but immediately upon landing, she lost her balance and slipped from the saddle. The implication was that the amazonas were as much paired in glory as in fallacy. Drama, drama, drama!

The real result of Athina's being projected over the fence was that she tied with another rider for the 43rd, and last place, in the Eric Wauters Cup, which was a competition of 1m30 jumps. Charlotte's accident cost her a bit less, but her level was a bit lower than Athina's. While the fence might well have been the same fence in both cases, for Charlotte the fence was only 1m10 and she ended up tying with two other riders at 7th place in the Prix de la Chocolaterie de Monaco.

Athina and family, the Roussels, had VIP seats to watch the competitions. Thierry and Gaby Roussel, and their three children besides Athina sat in the table immediately above and behind the Grimaldis' row. At one point, Athina sat between Julien Vincent Brunie (director of the house of luxury Boucheron) and her French trainer Gaetan Colantuono. Nearby was the (female) head of the Clubs Habits Rouges, in which both Athina and Charlotte were members.

Athina didn't return to Monaco's equestrian event until after its relocation (from the espace Fontvieille to Port Hercule) and resurrection in June 2006. She was seven months into her marriage. But that wasn't the first merging with Charlotte since April 2001. The girls had crossed paths, chatted and smiled with each other at the Jump Bost in Fontainebleau in the first week of May 2003. One might imagine what they said to each other....

Charlotte: Salut, Athina!
Athina: Salut! Ça-va?
C: Je suis bien, et tu?
A: Comme ci, comme ça
C: Quel fait-tu?
A: Uh... you know... practice, competition...
C: (smirking knowingly) That's all?
A: (with a blush) Well...
C: It's true then! About... what is his name? Doda?
A: Yes, it's true, and he's fantastic.
C: I'm so happy for you.
A: And you? Have you met someone?
C: No, not really, haha. No one wants to date me. I come with too much baggage!
A: I doubt that. Well, I think I must be going. My trainer is waiting for me. We still have to walk the course together.
C: Oh yeah, me too. Let's keep in touch, OK.
A: D'accord. Au Revoir.

Exactly four years later, Charlotte sat at a tent-covered, front-row table overlooking Monaco's sandy new five-star jumping course. Between her and her boyfriend, Alex Dellal, sat her best friend since childhood, Juliette Maillot. Suddenly, Athina came walking up behind them, looking and smiling at Charlotte. Athina and Charlotte seemed very happy to see each other again and exchanged polite French greetings - cheek kisses. Alex and Juliette seemed to look with surprise and interest upon the exchange. Alex probably never before met the "Last Onassis," but Juliette would have likely encountered Athina at the old Fontvieille event in 2001. Juliette was a jumping rider up through about 2001, but even after that year, her brother, Augustin, competed in jumping.

It was the Global Champions Tour that reconnected the two heiresses. Before the event in the Spanish city of Valencia, they seemed to be barely acquaintances. After their successive encounters in Cannes, Monte Carlo, Estoril, Valkenswaard, Rio, Marseilles, and Villepinte, they gradually gave the world the impression that they were becoming friends -- or at least the kind of friends who keep each other on phone and E-mail contact. In Estoril, Portugal, they merged into the same social group in the VIP spectator tent. They laughed together at Doda's darling daughter, Viviane.

The International Amazonas, 1-8

I borrow the word Amazona, with all the associated context, from the Spanish society/celebrity media. An Amazona, historically, was a female warrior of Scythia: Statuesque, aggressive, headstrong, and as physically strong as the male warriors! The Spanish media likes to use the term for female celebutantes and sportswomen like Athina Onassis, Charlotte Casiraghi, and Marta Ortega Perez. I am now scouring the globe for such a woman from various nations! For now, I have listed eight born-rich equestrian sportswomen. NOTE: The women on this list are both inheritors and equestrian athletes!
  1. Greece has Athina. France and Switzerland each have a claim to her as well. Born in Paris to a French father and Greek mother, she was raised in the Swiss canton of Vaud by a Swedish stepmother. In 2006, she switched her national identity from France to Greece and aspires to join Greece's Olympic delegation. Level wise, Athina is somewhere between the amateur and the professional. She is not quite on the same par as her husband, Alvaro "Doda" Miranda, but she competes in many of the same competitions. Her average fence height at the moment is 1m45.
  2. Monaco has Charlotte. Italy and France might also claim Charlotte. Her dad, something of a male "amazon" himself, was the World Offshore Champ and the founder of two or three companies. Charlotte grew up to a great extent in France, first in Provence and latterly in the Paris area. As an amateur jumping rider, sponsored by the Gucci Group, Charlotte's current average fence height is 1m35. 
  3. Spain has Marta -- Amateur jumping rider and Inditex heiress/executive (sort of like a more sporty version of Ivanka Trump, continuing her sporting interest and simultaneously learning the business of her father Amancio's conglomerate, Inditex, which has a controlling interest in the Zara boutique chain.) In the jumping arena, Marta is in the same class as Athina. She also is romantically involved with a professional, top-class jumper. His name is Sergio Alvarez Moya.
  4. The USA has the mayoral daughter Georgina Bloomberg -- Dad Michael is New York City's mayor and also a billionaire thanks to his eponymous media empire.
  5. The UK has Zara Phillips -- Formerly the World Eventing Champion and the only person ever to simultaneously hold the World and European title for Eventing.
  6. Saudi Arabia has HRH Lama bint Turki al Saud. Her name implies that her father is Prince Turki bin Faisal al Saud. He was ambassador to both the UK and the USA. Princess Lama is an amateur jumping rider, a regular participant of the Global Champions Tour, the Toscana Tour, and other major European equestrian events. Pictures of her are hard to come by. The paparazzi are prevented from exploiting her by the many bodyguards who keep her tightly obscured from the prying eyes of peons. 
  7. Slovakia and Switzerland have a claim to Martina Hingis. The tennis ace was born in the former Czechoslovakia but, from about the age of six, she grew up with her divorced mother in Switzerland, and since retiring from professional tennis, has retired there. Today, she competes in Europe's big horse jumping competitions. I suppose Hungary has a claim as well; her father is Hungarian. Martina is a super Amazona, in my book. It can't be easy for one to be, in the teens and 20s, a champion of the most prestigious tournaments in the world (US Open, Wimbledon); then to switch, at age 29/30, to an entirely new sport! Martina trains with the Belgium-based Brazilian equitation trainer Nelson Pessoa. "Neco" Pessoa used to train Athina too; in fact, it was at Neco's equitation school in Fleurus, Belgium that Athina met her One True Love!
  8. Russia has Ekaterina "Katia" Rybolovleva, another regular amateur of the Global Champions Tour. Like Charlotte, Athina, and Martina, she has also competed at the Audi Masters in Brussels and the Gucci Masters in Paris Nord Villepinte. Katia is one of two daughters of Dmitri Rybolovlev, who is one of the so-called "Russian Mafia." Her sister, Natalia, was 20 last year. The girls grew up in London, exiles by paternal order from Russia, where the kids of the oligarchy are commonly regarded as potential targets of rivals and ransom hunters. Dmitri is reportedly Russia's tenth richest man, though last year he might have lost some ranking, since his wife of 23 years, Elena, demanded £3.8 billion as a settlement to their divorce. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Athina and Uceline's triumph in Basel

Athina is in Basel, Switzerland for the CSI 5* equestrian event. Yesterday, on her grey Uceline, she finished tenth in a competition, defeating 16 Swiss riders, and pocketing 400 CHF (Swiss Francs.) And today Doda won the Championship on the 13-year-old Hanoverian AD Ashleigh Drossel Dan. He won 28,000 CHF. See the Swiss German report: Baz Online.

Doda told the event reporter that he has been riding "Drossel Dan" only since May last year. He described the horse as intelligent, sensitive, and agile and enormous "Springvermögen." I don't know exactly how to translate that word. Branching ability? Jumping stride? At any rate, he will ride Drossel again in Zurich, where three years ago he triumphed with the chestnut mare Picolien Zeldenrust.

Charlotte Casiraghi is also in Basel to compete in the amateur classes.