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26 October 2009

Weekend in Austria - World Cup, Sölden

After a celebratory day of being back in port after the storm on Friday, at about o-dark-thirty Saturday morning, four of us headed off to the nearest airport (Murcia) to go to the World Cup races in Sölden, Austria. Heidi's thought balloon Everyone except Anne had been to ski races before, but nothing could have prepared us for the scale of a World Cup race day in Europe, where they take ski racing very seriously – except with a huge dose of carnival-style celebration mixed in. We’re all still struggling to find an analogy to a similar event in the states. There were probably 10,000 people there, most decked out in colorful hats, clothing and body painting representing their countries, carrying flags and noisemakers of all kinds. (Including, occasionally, lit, smoking road flares right in the middle of the crowd.) The announcers/DJ’s spoke constantly in an amazing mix of languages (they’d switch to the native language of whoever was making a run at a given time, quite a performance) with rock music interspersed along the way. Detailed live camera shots, as well as real-time scoring and timing data were displayed on huge screens. World Cup Solden - the crowds World Cup Solden - the crowds The course itself was incredibly steep and fast – the last section came over the edge of the permanent glacier at the head of the valley. We had an excellent view of this whole last section, and could look back and forth between the giant display screen and the real view of the racer speeding down the course. World Cup Solden - Warner's run in progress World Cup Solden - Warner skiing World Cup Solden - Warner's run info Warner had bib number 47, and had a clean run, making it down with a solid performance. Unfortunately, he didn’t place in the top 30 on his first run, and so didn’t move on to the second round. World Cup Solden - Warner on the big screen After some wandering around, looking for Warner, he found us: World Cup Solden - Warner and Casey World Cup Solden - Jeff, Warner, Casey, Heidi World Cup Solden - Jeff and Warner We (and Warner) were amused by the random fans coming by asking for his autograph and a photo as soon as they saw his ski suit and World Cup bib. World Cup Solden - A fan World Cup Solden - Warner and random Japanese fan We headed out into the crowd to find some lunch and wait for the second round of runs. Lunch was Schnitzel burgers (we are not making this up; it was a slab of Weinerschnitzel on a bun with sauce) and Glüwine (hot spiced red wine) while we listened to a live band sing American rock and roll songs and what we think was German techno, with a bit of rap thrown in for good measure. World Cup Solden - Heidi, Warner The second round of runs was very exciting, with the crowd whipped up to a frenzy each time a new racer came down the course. Afterwards we headed down the mountain and helped Warner pack up his gear. Then a quick side trip to drop a visiting buddy of Warner’s off at the train, and we were off to visit Kitzbuhel for a fabulous dinner and walk around the medieval village center with some local friends of Jeff’s, with whom we stayed that night. The town of Kitzbuhel, Austria Monday morning we fired up the GPS (whose computer-generated female voice caused us to name it “Gretchen”) one last time, and found our way back to the airport for the trip back to the boat and Cartagena.