Friday, February 18, 2005

gruss aus Oesterreich

I'm in my hotel room watching the Nordic Combined World Championships on TV. (For the uninitiated, that's ski jumping combined with cross-country skiing.) Before this, I caught the tail end of today's World Cup downhill from Garmisch, Germany. This kind of stuff is on all the time over here in Austria, and skiing is probably the most popular spectator sport here this time of year. They carry this stuff live on network TV, not some obscure cable channel.

OK, the ski jumping just ended, and on another channel I just caught a news broadcast about some nudists (or so I gathered — my German is almost nonexistent, but nudity is a universal language.) We also have a channel devoted to broadcasting fashion shows. It's like Vincent Vega says in Pulp Fiction: "They got the same shit over there we got here. It's just over there, it's a little different."

While I wait for the cross-country portion of the nordic combined to begin, I guess I should provide a little bit of an update. We're staying in a medieval town in Austria called Hall in Tirol, just a few km from Innsbruck. We got here two days ago after flying into Zurich and driving east a few hours through the mountains. Yesterday we went into Innsbruck and walked around downtown a bit. We visited an old cathedral, a store that sold absinthe, and a house where Mozart lived, but the highlight was finding a store that sold the Hermann Maier Ski Racing 2005 game. Last night half the team was locked in their rooms playing that thing.

This morning we drove over to Wildschönau to train some slalom. We had a bit of an adventure on the way there when our van got separated from the rest of the group. Alison, our trainer, was driving, and she didn't know the way there, and neither did Laurie or I. We ended up driving around 50 km in the wrong direction before we turned around. After a few more wrong turns, we got to the ski lift over an hour after everyone else. We still got in some good training there.

Tomorrow we might go over to Garmisch, Germany to watch the second of two able-bodied men's World Cup downhills being held there, and then we drive to Fendels, where our next World Cups will be held. We train there on Saturday and then race there for six days straight, beginning Sunday.

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