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Lift line battles
Saturday, October 21, 2006

I made it back to NH just in time to catch the fog and rain, but I'm more than happy to be home. Other than some lingering jetlag, life seems to be back to normal.

The last two weeks in Austria were quite interesting. The weather was warmer than recent years - which closed a bunch of glacier ski areas – leaving Pitztal, where we trained, one of the few glaciers open during our entire stay. On one hand, it was great; we had relatively good snow and training lanes for our entire stay. However, on the other hand, there were exceptionally high numbers of skiers and tourists on the mountain with limited lift capacity and skiable terrain. So we battled day in and day out with what seemed to be the rest of the world in the lift lines.

In order to reach the snow in Pitztal it was a multi phase process utilizing a train, a short walk, and a mini-tram/gondola. Our day started with a half an hour wait in the train line to make sure we'd catch the 7:15 train. However, there is absolutely no order in any of the lift lines, it's every man, women, and child fending for themselves without a hint of courtesy. Then we pack into a 10 minute, 1.5 mile train ride up through a mountain packed so tightly moving or stretching was not an option and every neighbor shortly became an intimate friend. After the train ride we had a short walk to the gondola. Then we prepared for a day of battle. Every single run we had to take off our skis and fight the lift line.

At first, being somewhat generous Americans, we would often stand back and let the Euros fight there way to the front, but as time went on it became impossible not to enter the fray. Moving through the lift lines without getting trampled became a strategically planned assault so people pushing from the back of the line didn't crush you against the metal lift line barriers. Not to mention, there is always the occasional punk that thinks regardless of the number of people in the line ahead of him, he's going to make the next gondola. One ride a rather large Swiss racer grabbed the hood of my sweatshirt and nearly pulled it off because I wasn't ready to let the bastard cut the entire line. Lucky for me, not so much for him, I was testing out some new Slytech arm guards which push large Swiss ski racers out of the way just as effectively as gates. Then again, gates don't fight back. Once we finally made it to the top of the mountain, I had to spend a few minutes every run to refocus and remember just what I was working on as the lift line stripped us from all mental run to run preparation and consistency.

Needless to say, I can't wait for Colorado where we won't be taking off our skis every run, battling insolent crowds, and we'll be casually sitting on a chair lift with comrades in between runs. This trip was still productive as it gave us another important chance to make some good turns, size up against some international competition, and get more miles. I'm skiing well and looking forward to the start of the season. The new Fischer slalom skis are infinitely better than last year's product so I'm really excited to unleash them in North America.

Sorry for the lengthy update and I hope you're all doing well, w

posted by Warner at 10/21/2006 06:12:00 AM


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