The flu has reportedly hit the Austrian men's Alpine skiing team just days before arriving in Torino, according to the Austrian news agency APA. Team members Hermann Maier, Rainer Schoenfelder and Christoph Gruber are all ill.

Hermann Maier is a hero of the Austrian people as well as skiing fans world-wide. Maier has one of the greatest career records in downhill skiing, and shot to fame after walking away from one of the fastest and most spectacular crashes on the slopes in Nagano in 1998, in the same Olympics where he picked up the Gold medals for the Giant and Super-G slaloms.

He was not so lucky in 2001 when he survived a near fatal motorbike accident. However, defying all obstacles, he was skiing competitively in 2003 and remains a hot favourite for the medals in 2006.

Walter Delle Karth, Maier's spokesman, told Austrian journalists that the skier was resting at home in Flachau as a precautionary measure and that there was no question of him not travelling to Italy on Wednesday to prepare for the Olympic races.

Delle Karth said Maier had not been feeling 100% and had decided against travelling to Vienna on Sunday to attend a reception being given for the Olympic team by Austrian president Heinz Fischer.

"He preferred to stay at home and rest to avoid getting worse", Delle Karth said. The Winter Games open in Turin on Friday. We wish the Herminator a swift recovery.

Thanks to LaPresse for the image.