Saturday, January 28, 2012

From Kitz to Kidz...

Kitzbuehel and the races - the weather finally improved enough to run the famous Hahnenkamm (albeit, a shortened start gate).  The 'fly over' here was quite different from the one in Wengen by the Swiss Air Force!!

Kitzbuehel's version of the opening flyover.
While the US skiers did not fare well in the Kitz races - one of our favorites, Didier Cuche from Switzerland, who announced his retirement at the end of this WC year, won the downhill!!  A GREAT way to end his 'run' and the highlight of our race experience here.

The crowd at the Downhill awards ceremony was larger than the crowds we get in Park City at the actual competitions.  YEAH for Dedier!!
 The action on the 'streets' in Kitz was something to see also -

More fan club action.

Downtown Kitzbuehel before the crowds arrived.
We even got a little blue ski on Sunday for the Slalom.  Again, the US guys did not get the results they wanted;-(

Slalom finish area.
Monday we said good bye to Judy and Tim and headed for Stuttgart to stay with our cousins, Cindy, Brett, Barrett and Harrison;-)  One little side trip - to Baden Baden - an elegant spa resort known as the "Summer Capital of Europe".  A wonderful little town with lots of good restaurants, great pedestrian areas and 'the baths'.

Downtown Baden-Baden.

Street entertainers on Langestrasse in Baden-Baden
We are so lucky to have wonderful friends and family that open their homes and welcome us with open arms.  We spent several days with cousins Brett and Cindy and their sons Barrett and Harrison.  (Harrison even gave up his bedroom so we had a place to sleep!!)  Saturday we all ventured to Rothenberg ob der Tauber - a really charming little village.  Brett really had his hands full here with all of us!!

The main square in Rothenberg ob der Tauber.
The kids are having a ball.

Street scene from the old walled city of Rothenburg.
 We really enjoyed our visit - and had a GREAT time with the boys;-)

Barrett took a bear hug break.

Soooo, what does an Elephant sound like?

Mmmmmm.....great pizza!
It has been a wonderful trip from the Kaiserball to the World Cup events to visits with friends and family.
But, all good things must come to an end - and it is time for us to return to the States and put all these wonderful events into our memory banks.

It is hoped that you have all enjoyed sharing our trip - see you in a few weeks when we begin our spring trip in Magic!!

Love to all - Elizabeth & Gary

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kitz in motion

Well, as we mentioned earlier, today's Super G race was canceled due to weather.  So we headed off to town to wander, have lunch, sample some of the street vendors offerings and enjoy the show.

The Racer Fan Clubs go all out over here, as you might remember from Wengen.  Seems that bands in costume are BIG!!  Note to Cyndi.. perhaps we can get something like this ready for rollout at Beaver Creek next year.

Hopefully tomorrow's downhill race will go as planned.

Until then.. E&G.

Our New Village - Kitzbuhel

Hello Kitzbuhel!!  Our friends from Verona, Judy & Tim, rejoined us for this new experience for all.  The newly renovated rooms in the Christophorus awaited - and Judy once again outdid herself on accommodations.  Our two bedroom/two bath apartment - with sitting room and kitchen - was perfect. AND only a couple of blocks from the old, main part of Kitz and a couple of blocks from the race finish area!!  NO more 30-40 minute walks to the races.

A very comfortable apartment awaited us at the Christophorus Hotel in Kitzbuhel, Austria.
Thanks Judy for once again finding great accomodations.

These race runs can be seen from our hotel balcony.
Bottom of the Downhill on the left and the Slalom on the right.
Tuesday we all walked to the finish area to get the lay of the land and stayed to watch the first of the downhill practice runs.

Tim and Judy contemplating another day of skiing.

Waiting for the downhill practice run to start.

Ted just finished his successful practice run.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent 'nosing' around town and a little side trip to nearby Zell am See, where Gary had his most interesting Club sandwich for lunch - it included an EGG!!, and a couple of mystery flavors.

We took a day trip to Zell am see.  We appreciated Kitzbuhel even more when we returned.
Friday is race day.  OH NO!!  The weather finally turned ugly - the sun went into hiding - snow moved in - AND the Super G was cancelled today;-(  How disappointing.  Don't know how much more shopping we can do?!?!?  But, guess we will have to try some more.

Will also pick up a few pictures of our little village and post some of those a little later.

So - until we have something more (and interesting) to post - E & G

Sunday, January 15, 2012


It's Friday the 13th - and the races are finally here!  Today is the Super Combined (one 'shortened' downhill and one slalom run).  So - we are off to Canadian Corner (the place where everyone has told us to watch the downhill) to see the downhill portion of this race.  Being in our typical fashion, we are very early - so, we have our choice of spots on "the hill".  Just need to be sure we can see the famous JUMP and the big screen for all the rest of the run.  

It really isn't dark thirty!  But, have our sights on that BIG screen. 

(The jump is BETWEEN the rock and the netting - coming down on the blue lines!!) 

Still early - just wait. 

As the excitement builds - 'the hill' fills.  

These people have a birds eye view of THAT JUMP! 

The race begins - and here comes TED -


After the downhill portion, Ted was 19th and Bode Miller was 2nd.  Off to the train to get us back to Wengen - then our 30 minute walk to the finish area for the afternoon Slalom run.

Just like 'the hill' - the finish area is packed. 

Too many Swiss flags.

As part of the beginning ceremonies for the afternoon sessions on both Friday and Saturday, we were treated to the Swiss Air Force 'show'.  Their equivalent of the Blue Angels - and quite a show;-) 

Sure these fireworks were for E!

Time for the Slalom run and we were quite hopeful for the US - and were not disappointed.  Ted moved from 19th to 6th and Bode finished 3rd!!  This meant we had TWO in the awards ceremony that evening.

Ted approaches the finish line.

Bode and Ted compare notes.

Ted is ALWAYS signing autographs!! 

MOOOOO!!  We even have the cow bells. 

The award ceremonies were back in Wengen in the newly built village in the square.  What a zoo!  Every restaurant/grocery store/bakery had a street-side stand selling food and drink.  There were people shoulder to shoulder and you could hardly move.  BUT, it was all worth it to see Bode and Ted on stage.

It is early, crowd is still pouring in to Wengen.

Believe it or not, the next night, Saturday was even more jammed this Friday crowd.

Way to go Ted and Bode.

Aren't those US boys cute?!?!  (Bode on right next to Ted) 

Unfortunately, Friday was the best day for the US.  Saturday was the BIG downhill race and Bode took 5th for the US.  The Swiss were really happy as they took 1st.  This meant that Wengen was even more packed on Saturday night - and the last of the partying we heard was at 4AM!!  Even though we like to take in the local excitement - it was soooo packed, we retreated to our room and hit the pizza parlor in the lobby of our hotel;-(  Sunday brought on the Slalom and more support from interesting 'fan clubs' -

These guys could give the USC Marching Band a run for their money.

Again, the US did not fare so well.  No US representatives in the second run.  This meant we again retreated to town and had a VERY nice lunch while everyone else was at the venue for the finals.  We even found a 'launder mat' (had two washers and one dryer) to deal with those dirty clothes.

Now we are ready for an early exit from Wengen tomorrow (Monday) morning and head to the next race adventure in Kitzbuhel.

More soon - Elizabeth & Gary

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Creating a 'Party City' for the World Cup Races

Thought it might be interesting to show you all how a little village up in the mountains prepares for a world famous event like the Lauberhornrennen. A little village was built, within the village, on the main plaza to be used for the evening bib draws and nightly prize ceremonies.  AND, all of this has been done since we arrived - which means in FOUR days!!  (Remember - this is a village without cars sitting on the side of a mountain.)  Also, this plaza is about a block away from our hotel - so to say we are in the middle of things is putting it mildly!!

This preparation - like our daily outings - has utilized various forms of transportation.  Trucks (OK, so they have a FEW motor vehicles up here), trains and helicopters!

Trucking the food up to the Finish Area.

Training up the always important Toi Toi's.

Choppering up the 'houses' to be built on the plaza.

Craning it up.  Notice the log house being 'built' on the right.
The stage is on the left rear with the white roof beams.

Almost ready - at least the stage is done.
The substantial 'tent' on the left with the BIG windows is the athletes/special people lounge.

And here is the completed log house.
Lights, Camera, Action!!  Time for the SHOW!

Well - this is the progression we have observed every day as we walked from our hotel to the train station.  It was fun to track the progress and to see the transformed plaza last night - JAMMED with people.  It might also be noted that all the white tents you see in the pictures are food and drink tents.  One of which serves the BEST thin crust pizza - another of which serves a great raclette - and another for Gluwein!  We know because this was dinner last night and likely to be again for the next two nights.  YUM;-)

Hope you enjoyed seeing our little village for the week and how it transformed for this event.  (Park City could really learn a thing or two about pedestrian areas!!)  It is a lot of fun to be a part of this BIG PARTY - and the American racers are making it even more fun!!  (More on that to come ----------)

From your Party Animals in Wengen - E & G


Friday, January 13, 2012

Matt Lauer has NOTHING on us!!

Yes – Just like Matt Lauer we are off to the Sphinx Observatory atop the Jungfraujoch via a train ride THROUGH the Eiger to the highest train station in Europe  (11,300 feet!).  Also a UNESCO site.

Knees are knocking and we're not even up there yet.

Today’s journey only involves two trains up and two trains back – no cable cars.  The first stretch takes us from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg, which is also used as a starting point for those rugged individuals who dare to climb the North Face of the Eiger (in the summer, of course). 

North Face of the Eiger centered over the hotel.

It is also a central lift area and “McHenry’s Beach” area (you have to know the Deer Valley ski area for this one!) of the Jungfrau!  Although on the way up it was a little early for ‘sunning’.

Everyone is out skiing.  This place will be very busy on our way back in the afternoon,

The Jungfraubahn was our train to “The Top of Europe”!  Amazing to think that this railroad was built 100 years ago.  Construction was begun in 1896 utilizing the manual labor of around 100 Italian laborers utilizing shovels, picks and muscle power for the first section.  Construction continued up the interior of the mountain until completion at the Jungfraujoch in August, 1912.  The cost was 16 million Swiss francs, which was twice as much as originally estimated.  But, they are quite proud of this achievement and are planning great events to celebrate the 100 Anniversary of the railroad later this year.

On the way up, there are two train stops where one can get off the train and look through observation windows at the sheer cliffs of the Eiger.  Impossible to believe that men actually climb this thing!  And, to help us understand the sheer magnitude of an assent (or the failure of one), we have been reading “The White Spider” by Heinrich Harrer, who was in the party of the first successful assent to the top of the Eiger on the North Wall (in 1938)!  Well worth a read.

Fortunately, we did not have to scale the Wall – but, were delivered safely by the Jungfraubahn.  Our first stop was the Glacier Plateau.  While the sky was beautifully clear, without a cloud in sight, the wind was blowing at a steady 20 miles/hour with greater gusts and the temperature (without wind relativity) was about 20 degrees.  COLD!!! 

Hard to keep the lens still it is blowing to hard.
Not sure how this paraglider is keeping his kit on the ground.

From here the views are stunning – looking into neighboring countries and down the Aletsch Glacier, Europe’s longest at nearly 11 miles!!

Our sense of distance was really warped from this height.

On up to the TOP of the Sphinx observatory.  It is impossible to capture the magnitude of the height and breadth of what one sees here – even utilizing my crack photographer!!  It is HIGH!!

This one is for brother Ken.  Yes, I really did stand on this see through grating thingy to get a downward shot of this cliff that falls thousands of feet.  Knees were a little week though!

This observatory and research center is one of the world’s foremost environmental research stations.  While the earlier focus was on high-altitude medicine and astronomy, today’s is on meteorology, glaciology and atmospheric measurements.  MeteoSwiss has operated a weather station on the Jungfraujoch since 1922.  Its unique position on a ridge at the main climatic divide of the Alps is reflected in the extreme weather data.  The measurements allow MeteoSwiss to track atmospheric pollution and climate change in the Alpine region – think ozone measurements and global warming research!!

We just wanted our pictures taken up here – Gary in front of the Monch (13,475’) and Elizabeth in front of the Jungfrau (13,642’).

The Monch

The Jungfrau

There were some of those daredevils here just as there were over at the Schilthorn – those willing to jump off the top and catch some of those wind gusts –

Amazing to see him control this in the high winds!

Up this high, you could even see the start of the famed Lauberhorn downhill (which we will see in a couple of days) –

The red fencing is the Top of the Lauberhorn downhill race run.

We also got a good look at the Schilthorn – our destination yesterday.

No 007 in sight.

On the way back down, a stop at Kleine Scheidegg for our afternoon snack was in order.  A little busier this time of day.   Bars were set up in the funniest places!!  And the hot chocolate with Bailey’s and lots of whip cream was just what E needed!!

Alpine Teepee Bar - Santa Fe or Klein Scheidegg??

Ahhh, a warm refreshment.

What an incredible couple of days!  The weather was so wonderful and allowed us ‘to see forever’ on our ‘top of the world’ adventures.  After all these activities, we decided a bit of a down day was probably smart since the races were about to begin and would require lots of walking, lots of excitement and possibly long days.   So – Thursday we took the train to Grindelwald.  A bit of poor planning on our part, as we seemed to have taken the morning ‘rush hour train’ to the slopes!!  AND, all the ski teams were now in town and completing all their training runs – so they were also a new ‘mix’ on the trains.  All in a days entertainment -

I think the crowds have gotten to the guy sitting down.

But, on the other end was a cute little town much like Park City – except that the train came into the center of town. 

Welcome to Grindelwald.

We wandered, shopped, ate lunch, shopped some more, had our afternoon snack looking back up at the Jungfraujoch (from yesterdays journey) and E finally sampled Gluwein;-)  This is a hot spiced red wine and will now be the afternoon drink of choice!

Everywhere you look, beautiful scenery.

The chocolate cake and the espresso weren't bad either.

One must pay attention to the train schedule as timing is everything.   Opening ‘ceremonies’ (not exactly what was expected!)  were at 5:15 back in Wengen and we had two trains to catch to get there.   So, it was time to retrace our steps.  As mentioned, we could have missed the evening events – especially as Ted did not make the bib draw – but a close up of Axel made the evening better;-) 

Bib draw for the next days Super Combined Race.

Axel Lund of E's favorites.

A really nice dinner followed the ceremonies – perhaps one of the best since in Europe.  The Beausite Park Hotel was the provider – highly recommend, just be sure to take your credit card with the HIGH limit!  Besides the wonderful meal, we ran into Ted and had a nice little chat;-) 

Tomorrow the races begin – and we are VERY excited.  Will give you a full report as each event unfolds.

Hope all is well back in the states – E & G