Thursday, February 16, 2017

I can do this!

FIS Alpine Ski World Championships 2017 St. Moritz, presented by some car manufacturer with almost as many rings as the Olympics. In fact, about 20 km away from St. Moritz, on the ski hill of Zuoz, at the qualifying races. This is where the lesser nations like Finland, Jamaica, Mexico or Tonga send their competitors down the slopes in hope that one or the other makes it to the main event, up the valley on the posh hill. And then there is the one guy from the Swiss national radio station, who at some stage late at night in a bar said that he could do just as well as the rookies just mentioned before.

Said radio guy could have been about anyone in Switzerland, me not withstanding. I have quite a few things to say about my skiing and while some might be true, I might actually still be very far away from being competitive. The other week I tried a speed trap on a steep slope in order to finally and officially crack the 100 kph. I failed by a mile, clocking up something short of 97 and to be frankly honest, I did not feel entirely safe hitting the brakes sharply before the fence. After two attempts I knew what I had to do to accelerate more, but I knew exactly that my braking action would be a considerable constraint.

Swiss Radio (SRF3) DJ Fabio Nay, wearing his vintage 1990s Swiss Cheese Union ski dress

I have no idea what kind of speed the skiers hit on a giant slalom qualifying track, but one would expect that to be somewhere in between 60 and 80 kph. Our radio DJ would have had to hit about 50 gates at that speed, turning left, right, left, right and left again. As far as I could see, there was not even any major topography difficulty in the track, apart from the obvious slope. Still, he looked like a tourist, waving his arms around and sliding left, right & centre. Having properly learnt how to ski on the edge (the physical edge that is, not the proverbial limit), this looked as if I could do better to me.

Most certainly, I would have looked worse. While I probably knew more about skiing before I ever heard about the offside rule in football, there is so much more that goes into skiing than watching the stuff on the telly every weekend and racing down the crazy tracks in the Ski Challenge game (for as long as it existed). Suddenly one starts to realize how much training has to go into a body to withstand the forces of nature once things become a bit more extreme. Being able to handle myself on a mountain is one thing, but doing this on a competitive level is another.

After all, as a born and bred Swiss I feel as if I have a reason to feel aggrieved. Neither have I cracked these bloody 100 kph, nor have I ever won a race. But pretty sure, somewhere over a beer or three in a bar, I would have told or will tell somebody, that I could do this too!

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