The title of this post I think best sums up my experience over the past three weeks, since I last published a blog. I have an intimidating amount of ground to cover, so I’m going to cut straight to the chase. I think this post actually is kind of lame, and I hope to get some actual words up this evening too, but I wanted to get these photos off my chest….
Last time I wrote, I was chilling (literally [I know, I used that joke already]) in Fairbanks. Before I left, I encountered some huge baller journalism:
My original plan for the winter after Nationals was to hang out in Fairbanks, cruise back to Seattle after a couple of weeks, then drive with Topher up to Canmore for the World Cups. Then, I was skiing in Fairbanks, and I ran into a family member of one of the competitors at U-23′s. Basically, she offered to let me stay with them in Germany and report on the races. Turns out plane tickets from Seattle to Switzerland (closest airport) aren’t insurmountable expensive, and a whole crapload of logistics later, I was on my way (after first passing through Wasilla, home of Sarah Palin).
Wasilla is rad. Photo by Nick Crawford
I had a night in Seattle on the way with some friends there, and we had a pleasant evening sampling some of the city’s famous breweries. We also paid a visit to a Mexican taco stand, which ended up being very fortuitous. Sadly, I did not order the passport meal because my passport wasn’t on me, but I am 100% sure that I would have forgotten to bring said passport to the airport had I not seen this menu at 11:00 the night before I left.
I had a vegetarian taco...
On the plane from Seattle to Washington D.C., I ran into one of my professors from college, Nat Wheelwright. How crazy is that? In addition to having an awesome first name, Nat is an excellent biology professor. He was on his way to Zurich to discuss song sparrow genetics with some Euro scientists…
I think he's taking a nap...
In the United Airlines magazine, they had a pretty hilarious inane story on a Ghanian alpine skier who’s competing in Whistler. The author said that the skier’s story “may well be the definitive triumphal story of the Vancouver games.” Really? A Ghanian ex-pat who works in an office in Britain skiing to a mediocre finish in Whistler could be the “definitive triumphal story”? (I promise, there really wasn’t much more to the story than this–although he does train inside, which is pretty sweet.) This is why the mainstream media should stick to writing about football…
A shot from the Dulles airport that needs no explanation:
The fake grass is the best part
On the way up to cruising altitude on my flight to Copenhagen, I discovered that 20,000 feet is a similar climate to Fairbanks:
Then I made it to Zurich, Switzerland, which is the closest airport to Hinterzarten, where the races were taking place. They were having a sale on Jesus:
Not sure what exactly is going on here...
On the drive, someone in Germany got pretty psyched that they figured out where the village of Aule is:
Rad Swiss signs
In Germany, it turns out that the championships were sponsored by this crazy euro-disneyland type place called Europa Park. Midway through the week, they had this crazy gala banquet for the volunteers, some of the coaches, and the media, if they wanted. Normally accepting free meals would not mesh with my journalistic standards, especially ones that included amazing German beer, quail, steak, white chocolate mousse, and contortionists (yes, there is a woman inside that ball):
Really, she's inside it. Later it opened in half and she dangled by her feet...
But I figured that the likelihood I would ever be on assignment at Europa Park was pretty low. And I’m young and a ski journalist. So I went, and it was awesome. And totally insane. It was like dinner theater kind of, but basically a variety show instead of anything with a narrative. It included a beauty pageant, a ventriloquist who took me from my spot at the dinner table up on stage in front of 500 people and made me look like a total jackass (Abi Holt has video, and I am hoping that it never sees the light of day), some really crazy strong dudes, singers, an out-of-shape older guy guy who all of a sudden started jumping on a trampoline and doing ridiculous stunts that seemed like they should have given him a heart attack, and plenty of other stuff.
It also included a rendition of the horribly obnoxious and persistently catchy official song of the championships. My hunch is that this guy is an actor/employee of Europa Park. He was around all week with those wooden skis, signing autographs, singing the dumb song, and gyrating his hips in a manner that I would not have approved of if my small children were watching.
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Also, it snowed all the f—— time in Germany. This made for some pretty epic drives up to the venue, which have been well documented by the members of the U.S. team there. One thing that I will add is that even though the drive to the venue entails going up a very steep pass that seems to be subjected to constant blizzard-like conditions, nobody in this area appeared to realize that it might be a good idea to get some snow tires or chains for their cars, leading to situations like this one:
On the other hand, all the snow led to one of the most awesome skis I’ve ever gotten to go on. First tracks for like 15k, got to go down into a whole different valley, great views of the countryside, villages, etc.
You can't see the extremely sweet corduroy
On my last night in Germany, I tagged along on a trip to the city of Freiburg with some of the Americans, whereupon we found an interesting beverage. I am curious to find out how the American Birkebeiner got its official drink into a German bar menu:
Wodka and Red Bull...yum.
On the airplane back, there were a couple of interesting things in the newspaper. First, I don’t know exactly what this advertisement is going for, but I really like it:
Also, Petter Northug on the cover of one of the Norwegian newspapers (I think it’s Norwegian; I don’t honestly know).
XC is a big deal in Norway
I also got a chance to buzz into Zurich on the train on the way back, which was pretty rad:
Zurich is nice
Then, we drove from Seattle to Canmore. This was a two-day process, which also entailed a stop in Winthrop, Washington for some huge baller skiing in the Methow Valley.
Since we are such important ski journalists, Topher has some serious equipment that we used to enhance productivity on our drive. You can see here the computer charger and cellular modem that gives us rad internet access on the road.
A normal day in the office
One other interesting aspect of our drive is the car that I am driving. As I mentioned in my post about the cross country drive, there is a minor problem with the ABS in my car, which leads to a pretty rad warning light:
Imagine seeing that every two miles...
This problem has worsened over the last week. Pretty much every time we go around a righthand turn, we get a really annoying high-pitched whine that for some reason seems to be disconcerting to any passengers that we have along. I can’t really tell why…
This is all for this post–I think I am going to put up another one with some observations in writing from the last few weeks. Unfortunately I just don’t feel like photos and writing mix very well, so this will be separate…