Tuesday, January 20, 2009

powder day in sestriere

I have a good feeling about tomorrow. As anticipated, we were unable to train or race today after an overnight storm dumped a foot of snow on the course, wiping out our second scheduled training day. But the weather cleared early this morning and looks like it will stay that way for another couple days — enough time to get in some racing, we hope. Tomorrow's revised schedule calls for us to run a single training run at 10 in the morning, followed by a race at noon. At the risk of tempting fate, I'll say that I think it'll happen more or less as scheduled. I'll even go so far as to predict that three of the following people will be on the podium tomorrow in the sitting men's class: Chris Devlin-Young (USA), Sean Rose (GBR), Yohann Taberlet (FRA), Shannon Dallas (AUS), Reini Sampl (AUT), Luca Maraffio (ITA)... and me.

After the training runs were called off this morning, a small group of us decided to go out powder skiing. Tyler, Brad and I had all brought fat freeskis with us, and we headed out with three of our coaches to explore all that Sestriere has to offer beyond the downhill course. It wouldn't be an understatement to describe the conditions as "truly epic." We had that rare combination of sunny blue skies and a foot of light, dry, utterly rippable Italian powder, and we ate it up. We skied for nearly five hours straight, stopping only once for cappuccino, clocking probably eight or nine runs of over 500 vertical meters each. The craziest part was that we had fresh tracks all day long. Europeans by and large just don't ski off-piste, leaving stash after untouched stash for pow-hungry Americans.

Most of the other teams, not traveling with fat skis, took the day off completely. But we were joined for a run by Emanuele "Meme" Pagnini, Italian monoskier, recent dad, and all-around nicest guy on the World Cup tour. Meme was skiing on a slalom ski, nice and fat at the tip and tail but way too narrow in the waist. I thought he'd have a tougher time than he did, following us down through the trees, clearings and creekbed crossings, but he only augured in a few times.

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