Dec 5th, 2009
I'm now in Obertilliach, Austria, a small farming village in the Alps near the Italian border. I think there's about 3000 people that live here, but so far I've seen more cows than people. We drove here from Munich (about 5 hours), and there wasn't much snow on the drive until we arrived in Obertilliach. When we woke up this morning, it had snowed during the night and continued to snow all day today. There's a couple feet of powder out there now, which is the most I've seen in a long time. Apparently this area is notorious for getting huge dumps of snow.
We're staying in a guesthouse that is ran by a couple who are also farmers. I'm pretty sure they kicked the cows out of the one barn so we could wax our skis there. There's quite a few biathlon and cross-country ski teams in town, as this is one of the few places in central Europe with snow right now.
Last night, there were these creatures called "Krumpers" running around everywhere. Krumpers are really just people dressed up in scary masks and dark fur outfits that carry whips around. I don't know much about them, but apparently it's a tradition in this area that around this time before Christmas, people dress up as Krumpers and run around to scare all the children who have been bad. If the bad children get caught, they get whipped or put in a sack and carried around. Or that is what they used to do anyway. I'm not sure if they could get away with that anymore. I was warned about the Krumpers by my teammates when I arrived, as they gave quite a scare one of the athletes here last year when she ran into them and they kind of attacked her. So last night as I walked out the front door of our guesthouse to go scrape my skis, I saw/heard a group of them coming up the street towards me, I ran back into the hotel as fast as I could. I waited a few minutes, then peeked my head out the door, and they were down the road a bit. However there was a kid beside the hotel and one of the Krumpers turned around and ran after him as fast he could, so again I slammed the door shut to the hotel and waited a few more minutes. I definitely didn't want to run into them face to face.
This morning we skied and shot at the biathlon range here and it was great conditions, as there wasn't too much snow on the trail yet. However I still managed to crash into a German biathlete who was heading the opposite direction on the trail (the wrong direction in my mind, as I don‘t think it was really a two-way trail). I came around a corner on the right side of the trail and she was coming towards me on my side of the trail with a group of skiers standing still on the left side of the trail beside her. I didn't think I had room to get by on the right, so I moved to squeeze between her and the group of skiers, however she moved inside as well and we crashed head on, both going down. Luckily I didn't injure myself. My coach, Matthias, saw the crash and I asked him who she was, and he said Sabrina Bucholz, for all you biathlon fans out there. Apparently she was limping a little at lunch and Matthias talked to her and she bruised her shin. Hopefully she is okay....I don't really want to injure one of Germany's top biathletes... I did the same thing earlier this season in Canmore, again when my coach (Roddy this time) was watching. Note to self: Do not try to pass skiers on the left side...
So far I've had no problem with jet lag, which is great! I somehow slept for 6 hours on the 9 hour flight from Calgary to Frankfurt, even though it was mid-afternoon Alberta time. Then last night I slept soundly from 10pm to 7am. I hope travelling and racing is always this easy!
I'm racing an Individual race in an Austrian Cup on Sunday, I'll keep you updated on how it goes.
Thanks to everyone for all your support and good luck to those racing this weekend!