In the early summer, before leaving the states, my good friend Kate did me a solid. She was socializing with some friends over tea and strumpets when she heard an opportunity for me to work while we were in Italy. One of her companions that night was the Head Coach for the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Ski Team. He was in need of some extra help while the team traveled to Europe over the winter and Kate thought of me. Thanks Kate! Needless to say I took the position with the team and will be helping out where I can while also dabbling in some ski tuning for the athletes.
The first European stop for the team was in the Tyrol region of Austria. I was headed to Hintertux where the team was scheduled for preseason training on the glacier for two weeks. Having never been to Austria I was excited to see what this ski mecca had to offer. Obviously it was only October so the skiing wasn't going to be great but the area was a picturesque example of the Alps in fall. Beautiful high peaks dusted with snow, green grass in the valleys, and Austrian charm in every chalet. When the snow finally falls the skiing will be fantastic. Which is par for just about any area in the European Alps.
When we arrived into Tux from Munich it had started to snow. Yikes! Having spent the late summer and early fall in the heat of Rome the cold weather threw my mind for a loop. I wasn't really prepared, mentally or physically, for winter yet. This was going to be a bit strange to say the least. Summer feet don't like winter ski boots and summer skin doesn't agree with winter temps.
Our hotel was a perfect example of Austrian charm and design. A beautiful, large chalet with the best views throughout the valley. The Alpenhof has been owned and operated by the same family since the area started skiing in the 1940's. Since the team has a long standing relationship with this family they're invited back each year for a once-a-year shot at the good life. Luxurious is an understatement. This will not the norm for the remaining stops in Europe. Check it out: Alpenhof Hotel
Over the next couple of weeks the days became overly routine. Seen Groundhog's Day? Although for training it was probably a good thing for the athletes. My day's consisted of breakfast, training on the glacier, lunch, ski tuning, dinner, bed, repeat. Maybe a local beer or two thrown in here and there. Being the new guy and having this new experience in the ski racing world I was happy to be involved. It was a superb way to get back on the snow and visit another part of Europe. The coaches, staff and athletes where a welcoming group and I enjoyed getting to know them and their ski racing realm. Skiing is skiing though, and I'm blessed that it has given me so many opportunities to experience different areas of the world. I'm looking forward to what this new experience shows me next. Stay tuned.