Since two months have past without any new blog posts, I reckon that I'd better write down a few things before we forget where and what the hell we've been doing. Mostly we've been working. Well..Heidi's been working her ass off alone in Rome while I've be galavanting around snowless Europe tuning skis for the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Ski Team.
After our Thanksgiving trip to Norway, December came and went in a flash. We enjoyed a few days of the holiday build up here around Rome before I had to leave for a team trip to Austria and Switzerland. I have to say the holiday hype in Italy is surprisingly much less than that of the U.S. hype. Decorations, supermarket music, trees, and parties don't really start until half way through the month.
My December trip was a quick ten or twelve day trip that included a man cold from hell and some international border drama. And maybe a broken rearview mirror on a team cargo van. But that's what rental insurance is for, right? We started in the bone chilling resort of Pitztal, Austria before moving a valley over to the scenic and a bit sunnier Kuhtai ski area for a set of World Cup races. Both areas had some real freeskiing potential but with the lack of snow I have no good pow stories or lies to tell. Just bullet-proof race courses. Good times.
As we moved from Austria over to St. Moritz, Switzerland we had to pass through a small town with a BIG border crossing. My wingman and I approached the Switzerland border with such confidence. I was driving one of the team cargo vans full of the team's skis and clothing. Equipment you might need for a ski race the next day. I put my polite and charming face on for Mr. Bordercontrol as he signaled us to stop. Still smiling, I rolled the window down and figured this would be a quick "yes, no, yes, thank you sir" situation. It started that way but when he asked to see in the back and only two of the forty roller bags fell over me, I thought what could go wrong. We we're just transporting skis and gear to the next race. They love skiing in Switzerland. When that gear totals 1400 kilos in a van that was only allowed to carry 700 kilos, you have a problem.
After a quick discussion on the laws and fines associated with being over weight in Switzerland the officer made it clear we'd be dropping 700 kilos of gear. We made the decision to leave the extra bags at the border, drive the 80km to St. Moritz, unload the van at the hotel, then drive back to gather the 700 kilos we'd left behind. No big deal really. Just an extra hour or so of driving to avoid a 700 euro fine. Unfortunately on the way back from the border station during lap number 2, I took a turn a bit too close to the inside of the corner and shattered the rearview mirror of the van on a road marker. Who the hell put those things so close to the road! My driving preveliges should have ended there.
As the races in St. Moritz wrapped up, I made my way back to Rome just in time to catch our flight to Colorado for Christmas. Back in Colorado we spent our time between Edwards and Bonedale. Mostly we skied and spent time with friends who'd we'd been missing over the last few months. A big thanks to the Songer's and Hugo's for letting us crash with them during our visit. And thanks to everyone we had a chance to see, it really made the holidays special.
The last few days of our trip we'd spend in Minneapolis with Heidi's family. Of course it was wonderful to see the fam but like everything else on this trip, it was too short. We squeezed in everything we could to enjoy our time with the fam. Some ice skating, delicious home cooked meals, and even a winter round of Cornhole in the freezing temps. Thanks Kaplan's! You're the best.
When we arrived back in Rome we had three or four more days until school was back in session for Heidi and I was off to Austria with the ski team. We had high hopes that when we returned we'd be able to get in some skiing at one of the areas surrounding Rome but the weather hadn't yet cooperated. So we fought the good fight against the jet lag and stayed up late and slept until noon.
With the next quick turn around of traveling my body was starting to wonder where home was. An odd feeling to say the least. This next trip with the ski team was going to last just over three and a half weeks. (Heidi was stoked, especially since I'd be missing her twelfth 28th Birthday.) We'd be starting in Austria, move to Slovenia for a few days and finish up in Italy for the IPC World Championships.
Working and traveling with the ski team has been an amazing experience. Especially when I'm not destroying rental vans. It probably sounds a little more glamorous than it really is too. Being away from home for that long is the real challenge. Leaving Heidi in Rome without any supporting cast is tough and hopefully the future won't be so taxing.
Luckily Heidi was able to make a quick visit to Tarvisio, Italy for a weekend of skiing with me while I had some free time between races. We had a gorgeous day exploring a new area and enjoying the surrounding views. At the end of our ski day we wondered into the tiny town of Valbruna to check out a hotel owned by a family from Edwards Elementary School. Small world. Actually the weekend of skiing turned into a day of skiing because I ended up coming down with the Flu from HELL at the end of day one. Heidi was a trooper and did some bonding with the team while I threw up all over the place. Making the best of a foiled weekend. Ten days later the World Champs were over and I was headed home to my girl.
I've been back in Rome almost two weeks and it feels great to be home. Our weekends have been full of skiing, Birthday Celebrations, and mountain biking. While I was away Heidi found a great ski area that we've decided to call our new home hill. The area is called Alto Sangro and the skiing, snow and terrain is surprisingly great. There is actually more snow here than any of the areas I've visited in the Alps. It relieving to find some skiing and having some more mountain biking options over the summer.
We've been busy to say the least but life in Italy is feeling more normal by the day. We're feeling less out of place and more comfortable in our surroundings. Language is, of course, still a hurdle but we're working on it. With all that being said though....we leave for Chamonix on Friday to ski and visit with Owen, Kate, Tim, and Charlie. Should be a barn burner. Stay tuned and hopefully I'll update the blog again before I leave for Japan and South Korea.