The Namibian (Windhoek)

22 November 2011

Namibia: May 'Responsible' for Lauer's Dune Skiing Experience

SWAKOPMUND's Guinness world record setter for Dune skiing, Henrik May, was convinced that he broke his current record after he had to chase after American NBC's 'Today Show' host, Matt Lauer, just to get a photograph promised to him by the star of "Where in the world is Matt Lauer".

Namibia was the first of five countries showcased two weeks ago as part of the tenth anniversary of Lauer's show.

The 'Where in the World ...' show usually starts with Lauer standing against a background of blue sky. While he welcomes his audience, the camera pans out, finally revealing where he is - this time on top of a dune near Swakopmund.

May said NBC news crew contacted him telephonically and asked to show if skiing in sand was possible, and if Lauer would be able to do the same thing for his show.

"She got my details from the web-publicity related to last year's world record and my business, Ski Namibia," May told The Namibian.

A meeting between Lauer and May was organised one day before the live broadcast. They first had a test-run on the same dune where May set the world record.

On the day of the show about 25 million viewers saw Lauer on a Namib-dune. What they did not see (and the newspaper is in possession of many photos), was May carrying all Lauer's ski-gear up the dune - walking. Lauer was transported to the top of the dune by car.

Once at the top - with May out of sight - Lauer did a short presentation before he skied (trained by May) down the dune.

"I expected that he would give me a sign that I could come after the live shoot was done so we could get our photo that would be a historical moment for me and my business being, what I believe, to have been the first live transmission about dune skiing on the planet," May said.

But Lauer did not show a sign. According to May, Lauer instead was just about to zip off the set without that promised photo.

"This is when I decided to do things my way and did the ski of my life. I must have broken the record going down that dune, and when I was at the bottom, I slid on the gravel as far as possible to get to the car Lauer was going to. The engine was already on," May explained.

Just as Lauer was about to get into the vehicle, May managed to grab him by the shoulder and pull him back, holding Lauer next time him, ready for a photo.

"Matt realised then he owed me and said OK, let's do it quick," according to May. "That was when my well deserved photo with Matt was taken."

In July last year, May was first dune-skier to set a record in the Guinness Book of World Records, which was published in the 2012 edition. He reached a speed of 92,12 km/h on a 75 metre dune in the dunebelt between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.

Before this event, May enjoyed about 20 clicks per hour on his homepage from people interested in dune-skiing. After the show, hits per hours shot to over 180.

"This is quite amazing, and soon I hope to see if this means that more people will come to Namibia to dune ski. Namibia is one of the best and only places in the world to enjoy this adventure sport," he said.

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