Saturday, October 22, 2011

Soelden, Austria

It's clear, crisp. My eye caught a meteor before walking into breakfast. A sliver moon is just bright enough to outline the Tyrolean tips. Time for a coffee.

The sun won't be up for another hour. You can already see a snaking band of headlights winding up the glacier. We're rapidly leap frogging the line. New women's Tech Head Coach Roland Pfeifer is driving. Lindsey Vonn wishes us Guten Morgen…her voice on Austria's Hitradio. Seconds later, we pass a barn sized Volkl poster of Julia Mancuso.

Strip away all that is the World Cup and this remains a special valley. Sentinel white peaks bear hug a fertile farming floor split clean by the Otztaler Ache river that can only be described as berg blue. I would love to see it in summer.

The U.S. Ski Team has always felt comfortable here, but never so much as we do this year. For the first time in the 14 years of opening the World Cup season in Soelden, an Austrian is not on the race poster. Bode Miller is. Welcome to the new European home of the U.S. Ski Team.

It's race day in Soelden. I feel it in my stomach.

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