You cannot begin to imagine how loud a World Cup ski race in Europe is. I’ve been to big Rugby matches, even bigger AFL (Aussie Rules Footy) matches and a Hoodoo Gurus concert. [Hoodoo Gurus were widely regarded as “Austalia’s loudest band”] And nothing … and I mean nothing has left me with my ears ringing quite as long as spending the day with the completely obsessed Italian, Austrian and Swiss ski racing fans.
World Cup ski racing is actually a huge 3 day party which is briefly interrupted by some ski racing. The race we went to see today was the Mens Giant Slalom.
We arose early and drove the 10 minutes to Corvara to catch the free bus to La Villa. Given the limited parking situation at La Villa this was our first smart move of the day. We really didn’t know how it all worked for an event like a World Cup but we seemed to make good decisions most of the day.
Good move #2, was buying tickets for the fan club section of the stands at the finish line. Being in this section meant that we were among the loudest and most enthusiastic racing enthusiasts. Good move#3 was getting there early. Arriving at around 8:45 am meant that we had the pick of the seats in the stands, although at -7°C you couldn’t sit on the metal benches without developing an immediate case of frozen unmentionables!
All around us were supporters of Carlo Janko, a swiss racer. They were all wearing a team uniform with Carlo Janko fan-club embroidered on their backs. I couldn’t help but think it was quite fateful that we were in the section of the stand with fans whose team colours were red, black & white. The AFL team that both Graeme & I support, called St Kilda, have the same colours. To support Carlo, the fan club brought along 50 assorted cow bells, and a huge truck air-horn which was operated by an air compressor that they had installed in the back row of the stands. With the combination of the ringing cow bells and the blasting horn, the noise was absolutely deafening when any swiss team member, but most especially when Carlo Janko was on the course. Here’s the video for you to get the idea.
Unfortunately for the Carlo Janko fans…he crashed and burned on the third gate of Round 1 which meant he was completely out of the running. Long way to come from Switzerland just to see him ski for 3 seconds? But hey what do I know? Carlo was in some good company as the other favourites like Ted Ligety also didn’t make Round 1.
The World Cup race is a really fast paced event. There are no long delays between races and although the first run has a lot of competitors – 71 in this event, round 2 is only the top 30 from Round 1. The commentary was a bit like listening to Darrell Eastlake commentating the weightlifting – very loud and exciting….well we think it was because it was in Italian & German with an occasional English word thrown in for good luck.
I mentioned it was -7°C for the morning run, so by the time the fist heat was finished we were frozen to the core, despite being well prepared for standing in the cold. We escaped to one of the food tents….or rather I should say “beer halls”. It was packed and at 11:30am there were already people dancing on the tables! Austrian oompah beer hall music was being played by a live band and the party was on. Somehow we managed to decipher the food ordering system and find a seat at a table with a nice couple from Italy. It was too loud to really have much of a conversation, but everyone was very friendly.
Heat 2 (Final) and we were back in our seats. The sun was now shining on the stands and it was considerably warmer – 0°C!! It turned out to be a super exciting race with a rank outsider from Slovenia, holding first position for a long period. And then along came the Italian, Florian Eisath who took the lead. The crowd was going absolutely mental, until he was beaten out to third by the Frenchman Matthieu Faivre and then finally the Austrian Marcel Hirscher. Marcel now shares the record of 5 consecutive wins of this race with the very famous Girardelli.
Returning home to Arabba that evening we were completely exhausted from the cold and noise overload. We flagged making dinner at home and went out for a bite to eat at a local restaurant/ bar called Bar “Peter”. This place had been recommended to us but each time we passed by they were playing very loud disco style music so we weren’t that convinced. But tonight it was very quiet and we enjoyed a lovely simple meal and the company of Miriam our waitress. She speaks perfect English and has worked with many people from NZ before, although she has not been there herself. Of course she knows the Delmonego’s!! Who doesn’t?