March 8, 2012


Sunny, mountainous, warm, and expensive are the best adjectives for my week in Switzerland.  After a, thankfully, uneventful trip over the pond we headed to the Gstaad valley. One of the most famous valleys in Europe for alpine skiing, you can only imagine the beautiful steep mountains and quaint intricate Swiss villas that surrounded us. Having traveled over here a few times for races, I was not taken by surprise by much, but it is still different enough that it takes many trips and many races to become to the point of being unfazed by anything that may occur during travel, training, and racing.

The Gstaad Valley
Sunset in the Valley
Our Hotel
Day 1 of racing brought a 10k skate at noon in 60F degree sunshine, making for a bit of a slog fest. Feeling pretty confident with the small field, I went for it, only to realize just how much the heat and slush takes out of you at about 7k. Not my best race. Day 2 was something of a race of fears for me. We raced at 9:30 in the morning so rather than slush, we were dealing with solid ice, klister, and double tracks around the whole course. This meant high speeds, no second guessing, no speed checks, and fairly bad consequences for falling, none of which is my speciality. It as also a mass start race so there were about 30 other girls to deal with. In the past, I have only raced in Europe for big international competitions, which means they give you instructions in English. This however, was a Swiss cup, meaning everyone but me and my teammates spoke German. So as I'm shuffling my feet back and forth waiting to hear instructions, the gun goes off...whoops, not a great start. Next, I realized that I had less than ideal skis. I thought I could work around this so I kept pushing on, managing to stay on my feet and not loose too much time on the downhills. Starting around the 2nd lap, I had managed to wear all the wax off my bottom of my skis making striding rather difficult. The other funny thing about racing in Europe is that, despite being fully of really good skiers, they are incredibly relaxed about the actual race. So our course featured about 10 road crossings that were not exactly fully covered with snow. Coming down a fast hill, I flew across one of the roads, hitting a clump of mud, missing the tracks on the other side and falling hard on my side, leaving me upset and discouraged. So once again, not my best race. I finished 4th both days, making it a good effort, but not what I was looking for. Fortunately, we came to these races to work the jitters out and get some practice in so hopefully I managed that.

Enjoying the good skiing

A cheap skiers lunch

We got some sausage for entering the races!

Taking a break 

I love the mountains and sunshine!

Hans Rudolph our charismatic host

Who loved us girls, you'd think we were in Italy

The ritzy village of Gstaad


A very agricultural valley, the Gstaad valley has lots of cow bells

Now off to Slovenia!