Italy Shmitaly

from the top of Tarvisio, Italy!

Over the course of this winter I have spent more time skiing in Italy than in any other country.  We had three scheduled speed weeks in Italy this season—one in Cortina, one in Sestriere, and another in Tarvisio. After our week in Sestriere (which was unsuccessful, as far as racing goes!), we took a break in Venice, Italy, which I wrote about in a previous post. What I have neglected to write about, however, is the wonderful skiing in areas with insane geology and magnificent mountains. So I will begin with Cortina, Italy…

Cortina is a mountain in the Dolomites (Alps) located in the North-Eastern part of Italy, directly north of Venice. It is a bit of a challenge to get to, but the drive to Cortina consists of beautiful scenery with vast mountain ranges and wintery backdrops. Upon arrival in Cortina, I was completely in awe of the surrounding mountains and could not wait to go skiing the next day.  The skiing was everything my teammates had elaborated on—there was incredible terrain, chutes with enormous cliffs jutting up either side, steep off-piste skiing and, best of all, an incomparable view. My week in Cortina was incredibly enjoyable: from the slopes to the scene in town. Oh, and I can’t forget the PIZZA! My favorite one was in a little restaurant called Alpino, which is just a short walk from the center of town. The pizza (which looked like and was named after a local mountain) had arugula, bresaola (a wonderful air-dried, aged beef commonly found in Italy) and a goat cheese smother that was to die for. I cannot wait to return to Cortina for the skiing and that pizza!

After our week in Cortina we headed straight to Sestriere for some more speed races. The drive was definitely lengthy, as Sestriere is located in the far western point of Italy, directly West of Torino. Sestriere Mountain hosted the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic alpine ski racing events. The surroundings in Sestriere were slightly different from those in Cortina, but I was getting the feel for what made an Italian ski town different from others in Europe and around the world. It was an immense mountain, with seemingly limitless amounts of skiing and a backdrop of endless mountain ranges. Although our races didn’t happen in Sestriere this year due to a huge amount of unexpected snowfall, I am excited to go back and explore the area again!

After a few more race series and a break at home, we headed to Tarvisio, Italy for another week of speed racing. I have skied in Tarvisio in the past, so I knew what I was in for and I was certainly excited to return and get to know the area a little better. Tarvisio is located in the Southern Limestone Alps of Italy, right on the border with both Austria and Slovenia. During the first few days of skiing in Tarvisio it was a bit cloudy and foggy, so it was hard to get an idea of our surroundings. But on the third morning the fog and clouds cleared out, and the view from the top of the gondola was marvelous! It was like something from a mysterious photograph. I tried to capture the marvel with my camera, and I feel that I did a reasonable job—but a view like that is simply inexplicable. See the photos above and below…

All in all, I have had a wonderful time in Italy this year. I get the feeling of ancient, calm mountains and living nature from the ski areas and mountain towns that I have explored. The mountaintops are so sharp and intense, the rocks so bare and desolate, it makes me want to gather up my climbing gear and carry my skis to the top of the peaks.

Since my blogging last time, I have also ventured to Špindlerův Mlýn, which is a mountain resort located in the Czech Republic, for some GS World Cup racing. Unfortunately, I failed to make the second run (too many mistakes and silly skiing!), but I did take some pictures of the girls racing from the finish!

I am in Lenzerheide, Switzerland at World Cup Finals right now. This area is yet another aesthetically and soulfully pleasing one I have the privilege to see and explore! I am getting the feeling of spring, and I am certainly getting excited to do some free skiing and adventuring this April and May. I head home in a few days for a little break before Nationals, spring series, and some fundraisers. Keep on exploring the outdoors and following me around the world! You can check out my World Cup racing video at: http://www.universalsports.com/ by searching for my name in the search bar. Until next time…

Enjoy the photos, and I’ll update when I return home next week. Peace and love 😀

(the top of inspection in Cortina)

inspection during sunrise! whoopee

riding the chair in Cortina

look at that sky! Cortina cliffs and mountains

Cortina can’t help being so cool

totally random…hanging out in the Hofbräuhaus in Munich. teehee.

Icy trees and mountains in Tarvisio

mountains from the town in Tarvisio

the leather market in Tarvisio…really cheap leather stuff, if that’s what you’re into!

mountaintop polizia on Tarvisio

Tarvisio-this one may be my favorite

the lonesome top start-that never got skied out of…

Sarah ripping it up in Spindleruv

the course in Spindleruv

Julia laying it over at the bottom of the course in Spindleruv

A shot by Jon Margolis, take in the finish of the Garmisch DH

Toodaloo!

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feelin’ Sweden!

After three brutal days of travel from Oregon to San Fransisco, to Washington Dulles, to Munich, Germany, to Stockholm and finally Åre, Sweden, I thought I would be far too exhausted to see the beauty and mysteriousness of Sweden..but I didn’t even have to see it. I could feel it. When I deplaned in Östersund, I knew there was something special about the country (aside from the 30 below temperature).
On the bus ride from Ostersund to Are, I couldn’t help but stare out the window…I was intrigued and consumed with the view and the vast wintery layout. Everything was covered with white, dry snow. The air was clear and crisp, and the sun was setting behind a beautiful backdrop of countryside houses and snow-covered hills. When we arrived in Åre, I felt an aura about the area that brought me back to my childhood when I would travel to Canmore, Alberta for a weekend of skiing with my family. There was no one around during that time…I always felt like it was solely me and the enormous rocky mountains together–separate and isolated from all other aspects of life. I felt like I could breathe clearly and deeply–a privilege that I don’t realize I am deprived of until I get the opportunity to embrace it again. These were the same feelings I sensed upon arrival in Åre, Sweden.
The skiing deserves to be more than merely mentioned. Getting on the lift the next day was certainly a shock to my body, as it was -26 degrees Celsius and relatively humid, which made perfect sense considering we were skiing just above Åresjon (Åre Lake). But when we finally got off the gondola at the top of the mountain, the view was like nothing I’ve seen before–making suffering through the cold completely worth it. The beauty is unexplainable, and extremely hard to put into words…so I took some photographs that can help depict my feelings of the place. More on that soon…
The downhill run we raced on consisted of the definition of perfect snow…grippy and hard, making all of us feel like a hero–hence the name, “hero snow.” It made me think I could get away with anything, and left me feeling unsatisfied with just one run when I came through the finish. Luckily, we got 3 runs of downhill off last week! Every run down the track was somehow different…one was a lot faster than the others when the snow conditions changed slightly, and even the turns felt like they were in different places each time I skied down. It was an awesome course, and I can’t wait to return and try it again!
Aside from the racing, the skiing in Åre was seemingly endless. One day we were lucky enough to get a helicopter ride to the start of our downhill course! I took a video of it, which you can check out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HCQt-mlOOA

What an amazing ride–one that I surely will never forget.
All in all, the impression that Åre gave me was certainly an inexplicable one. It left me wanting more, and made me curious about Sweden and it’s history and culture. I cannot wait to return and discover more next time. But until then, check out these pictures and perhaps you’ll get a better understanding of the feeling I have been attempting to describe!

I am heading to Tarvisio, Italy right now for some more World Cup speed races this weekend! So check back in a while, and I’m sure I’ll have something new posted about another crazy adventure. But, until then…peace and love 😀

A cool sign at the top

In different colors…

At the bottom of the hill…looking out on the lake

the gondola at the top

off one of the jumps in the downhill…

(this one it totally random…I am doing a photography project of humanless pants because I seem to keep seeing it all around me. but anyway, here’s Stacey without her body)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

thinking about thinking

Sometimes thinking can destroy you. I know this over-thinking concept all too well as a professional athlete. In alpine ski racing, as in any other sport, success is all about results. If you ski your best and get 30th place, nobody is going to notice. Thinking about results before thinking about executing a plan typically leaves you feeling frustrated and under accomplished. Trusting yourself and feeling confident are things that we all strive to achieve, but all too often doubt and fear get in the way to bring you down and make you feel worthless and terrified to face a challenge.

I recently raced in the Alpine Ski Racing World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. It was not only my first time on the course in Garmisch, it was my first time at World Champs. I drew bib 1 in the Downhill race, which means I would be the first racer down the course—basically the one to test the conditions, hill, and set. As frightening as this was, I was excited for a challenge—I knew I could do it. I had confidence in my skiing and that this particular downhill was going to be a fun one. This mindset alone made the race not only one of my best finishes, but one of the most fun races I have ever competed in.

There are many situations in which it may seem insane to have confidence and to trust yourself. To me, these are the best kind of situations. When it becomes a challenge to not just perform well but to mentally push past huge blocks, it is the best time to trust yourself. Sometimes there is nothing you can do but believe in your ability and know that, though it is a scary one, the challenge you face will be thrilling and will help you grow into a stronger person. Every time you overcome a test it helps you to understand that anything is possible. There are no limits to my or any other sport…boundaries are continuously being overcome every day by brave people. I aspire to be one of those people… someone who is always up for a challenge, for a chance to prove themselves and to overcome boundaries that were once thought to be indestructible. It happens every day…someone breaks down a wall and takes their sport to the next level—whether it is in slack lining, mountaineering, or professional ski racing. It is hard to be the person who takes a chance of falling and being defeated, but when you can overcome something you thought was impossible is when you are living life to the fullest.  The only way to succeed is to trust yourself and to overcome doubt and fear. Don’t let these mental blocks stop you from pushing yourself to the next level….because there is always a next level, even if no one has ventured to it yet.

Well, that’s it for the philosophical stuff. I have been home for 5 days now (yay!), and I fly back to Europe tomorrow morning….at 530 am. Hopefully I don’t miss that flight! hah! I am heading to åre, Sweden for some more World Cup speed races next weekend. I am really, really excited as I have never been to Sweden before! Whoopee. Then we head to Tarvisio for another speed race the next weekend. Lots of racing ahead, even though it feels like the season is coming to a close.

This week at home has been truly amazing. During my time in Oregon it snowed 60 inches at Mt. Bachelor….and I got to ski it for two days! It was not our typical heavy Pacific snow, but light and fluffy–what I consider perfect conditions. I am not sure I have had a better powder day. Ever. So hells yeah to that…I get to race at 70 mph down ice and then come home and get face shots in 5 feet of new snow. Literally, FIVE feet. It was almost too much….but not quite. Had to keep it in the fall line! All I can say is…what a perfect break. Now back to my wonderful job!

Here are some pictures from the last couple of weeks. I wish I had pictures of the incredible powder, but it’s all in my head. Enjoy. Peace.

skiing the slalom portion of the Super Combi at World Champs…didn’t exactly turn out as I had hoped…oh well!

killing the sl portion of the combined…sort of…

The girls and mum in hanging in Garmisch

the crowd in the finish area! they said there was 50,000 people watching! AWESOME

interesting masked skiers from what seems like the 50’s

the girls and dad

boots and skis as instruments!

and old car horns!

the three sisters and their bums.

Stacey and Leanne being crazzzzyyy

from the top of Germany (the Zugspitze)

or to fall off the top of Germany…. and life is the consequence. SCARY

money baby.

until next time…. 😀

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Wondering and Wandering in Venezia

After a long month on the road, I finally got a few days off to explore and take my time getting to know another side of Europe. Traveling to and from ski areas is basically all you get a taste of when you’re on the Alpine World Cup tour. There really is no time to be a “tourist” and check out the surrounding areas and cities…it is always a rush to get from one place to another to unpack, race for a few days, pack again, and head off to the next stop. After a day of skiing has ended you have to eat, nap, recover (spin on the bike, do core, yoga, swim, jog, whatever you so please in any order and combination), watch video, go to team meeting, eat again, and finally sleep. There is no time (and not to mention energy!) left to really take in the culture or wander through your surroundings. Sometimes I realize that I don’t even know the name of the town I’m staying in, not to mention the name of the hotel or what part of whatever country I am in. But after a tumble in Cortina, Italy (check it out at: http://www.universalsports.com/video/assetid=3b300fa0-281e-4ea9-b728-31097e56808d.html) and a long week of waiting for bad weather to clear in Sestriere, we headed off to Venice for some well-needed time away from all the rush and stress.

Being one of the most historical and beautiful cities in Europe, we had a lot to cover in Venice in just two days. So we started out at a little hotel called Ca’ del Campo, tucked into a neat little alleyway in the San Marco district.  We walked just down the street to a restaurant that the concierge recommended, drank some wine, ate some Caprese salad, gnocchi, spinach ravioli and flounder—all of which was incredibly delectable. Then we aimlessly wandered the streets in the dark, trying to get an idea of what we would explore and where we would wander the following day…

We woke up the next morning, ate breakfast in our wonderful hotel, and headed out to San Marco Square to start the day. We explored the tiny streets and alleyways filled with glass shops, fancy furs, and silly souvenirs. I had to sit down at one point and draw the amazing history and structures that needed to make their way into my notebook. We wandered over the Rialto bridge and found ourselves lost in the winding ways and mini canals within the “Sestieres” of Venice. Getting lost in Venice was something that I could not fight with…it was a satisfactory kind of uncertainty that was easy to accept and deal with. Eventually we found our way and made it back to tour San Marco’s Basilica and ascend San Marco’s Campanile. From the top of the Campanile it was easy to see why one could completely lose their sense of direction in the city. It seemed, from way up there, that there were in fact no streets at all! I was amazed that we could even walk through the city—the buildings looked so close together and were packed into such a small area that it was unimaginable that we were wandering at all. It was great to see the city from above and to get a perspective on the size and shape of all the individual islands and the structures within them.

After a well-needed nap we hopped on a water taxi to Venice’s Sestiere Cannaregio to grab some dinner. We sadly discovered that the sushi restaurant we wanted to eat at was closed, so we walked back toward the Rialto district and ate some wonderful Indian food at the Ganesh Ji Indian Restaurant. The next day we decided to head to the fresh food and fish market in the Rialto district, where I ate some incredible mandarin oranges and finally found some good avocadoes (they’re hard to find over here!). The amount of fresh seafood was unthinkable and very smelly, but what an awesome market for a city that you can’t even find a grocery store in! We had to depart that afternoon for our home base, so after grabbing some paninis and a nutella crêpe we headed back to the train station with full bellies and heads.

There was so much to enjoy in Venice, it is truly impossible to do it in a mere two days. I certainly plan on going back and discovering more about the city that I surely didn’t get to experience this time around.  Though our trip was short, we still found some time to take pictures of our surroundings. Check them out…

San Marco square

pretty glass!

a snippet of the grand canal

a gondola man and his gondola

from the top of San Marco’s Campanile

drawing in an alley

Stacey and Leanne being sleek

random.

pillars

fresh food market…open 6-noon

smelly fish

pretty flowers

grumpy fish

when macro gets freaky…

It was wonderful to have a nice break and to take my time exploring before heading into some big races. I am headed to Garmisch tomorrow for the World Championship races that start next Tuesday (February 8th, Women’s super g!). How exciting! Watch it all on universalsports.com! Peace and wonder 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

climate change is lame.

Maribor World Cup 2010

Maribor World Cup 2011

Competing in a winter sport has never had consistent or predictable outcomes because of the variables that are presented by nature everyday. I can’t rely on the weather to comply with our racing plans—I can never be sure that I, as a ski racer, won’t be graced with a gust of wind, a thick fog, or an unforeseeable snow fall. But, as of lately, I now cannot be certain that there will even be snow on the mountain. I have lately experienced melting glaciers, abnormally warm conditions, and an undeniably peculiar lack of snow on many occasions.

I recently read the novel “Ishmael” written by Daniel Quinn, which was not only a wonderful read but a well-needed eye opener as well. The way that the human race has treated the earth within the last few centuries has caused irreversible harm that is becoming more and more apparent each day. Not only have we been selfish about resources in the sense of other beings on the planet, we have so eagerly jumped to call ourselves the final product of evolution. We feel entitled to jurisdiction over other beings and over the earth, and have therefore run into the problem of endangered species and endangered resources. This is something we have all been hearing and reading about for years and years, and it is now becoming visibly real in my everyday life…a once distant idea that has now become an undeniably scary truth that I can no longer ignore.

While travelling to Maribor, Slovenia for a World Cup Giant Slalom and Slalom ski race, I yet again experienced a lack of snow that not only drastically affected the public’s opportunity to enjoy skiing, but caused another World Cup race to be cancelled. The temperature of 12°C (54°F!) was quickly melting the snow, which was initially man made anyhow because of the current lack of storms in the area and the unusually high temps. There was no sign of snow in the city, and the strip of snow down the race hill was disconcerting and disheartening for all of us there with the intention of racing. The snow was not only melting from the sun’s heat, but it was melting from the heat of the mountain—from the base of the snow up to the surface layer. Streams of water were running down the side of the hill. Though the race crew thought that chemicals could save the snow for our race, it was just too warm for any treatment to make the hill safely race able.

The fact that we are using chemicals to try and save our snow shows how desperate we are becoming to temporarily fix a permanent problem that we have created. We cannot use our superhuman powers to save nature. Though we now have snow-making machines and chemicals to save our snow, these resources will also not last forever. It is important to not only think about how the climate is affecting our snow sports, but how our snow sports and actions are also affecting our climate. The snow altitude level is rising drastically: in 2050 the snow level at Park City Mountain Resort will be around 8,000 feet. Low altitude ski areas are slowly going out of business, and sometime in the future we will have to climb to great heights just to reach the snow. Not only is climate change affecting ski racing, but also recreational skiing and boarding, Nordic skiing, ice climbing, kayaking, mountaineering, all winter sports and many year-round sports as well.

The Save Our Snow Foundation was founded by Alison Gannett in 2006. Gannett is a World Champion Extreme Skier that was named a “Green All-Star” by Outside Magazine along side Arnold Schwarzenegger. You can check out the Save Our Snow Foundation website at: http://www.saveoursnowfoundation.org/The_Save_Our_Snow_Foundation/Welcome.html to further understand the effects climate change is having on our sports. The future of outdoor sports is being jeopardized by the way we treat the earth…so let’s keep pursuing our outdoor passions by taking a closer look at climate change and what we can do to prevent it. Keep winter alive!

On a lighter note, here are some pictures from Maribor and other random places I have been during the past couple of weeks!

somewhere in Austria. kaboom

the chair ride in Zauchensee

the intimidating and beautiful start of the DH in Zauchensee

click on this one and zoom in. it’s a 360 degree view from the top of Zauchensee!

post DH race

view of the night SL in Flachau from my hotel room porch!

top of the night SL in Flachau

a jog along the river in Maribor

swans in the river

a neat bridge crossing the river

….and looking down the river

some beautiful bricks outside of a Mexican restaurant in Maribor

streets in Maribor

Lasse and Guatalupe, two of the most adorable kids of two of the bravest moms I know

I had to put this in because it is the coolest carpet ever!

The hotel we stayed at in Maribor (hotel 365) was the neatest hotel with the nicest hosts! They had some pretty creative interior design going on, wonderful food, and an awesome staff. Other than the warmth, the time in Maribor was pretty enjoyable. It was my first time in Slovenia, and I really loved what I got to experience of the culture there.

I am off to Cortina, Italy tomorrow for another speed race! I hear and hope that the conditions will be better than they were in Maribor, and the temperatures are supposed to start dropping. So hopefully we’ll be in for some good speed racing! I am ready to race again. Well, that’s it for now. Peace and love ❤

Lalalaurenne

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

HEY…check out this random video I put together. I will post about adventures soon, but I thought I’d put this up for some entertainment for now. peace and love.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

break it off

Ooooooh how I love home! And snow, and friends, and christmas, and family, and beer. What fun! This post won’t have many words, I mostly just want to share some pictures that I took over my break. I suppose I’ll start now…

half a head and the Canadian Rockies

xmas gifts!

Instead of individual gift giving, my family did a gift exchange this year….each person got one family member a large gift instead of buying for everyone. What a good idea….so much avoided stress and saved time! Enough that we even managed to get around to a puzzle on xmas night…

the beginning of a creation

the middle

getting close…

et voilà

It was so nice to spend my time in Canmore instead of traveling around Alberta, to Victoria, Edmonton, and beyond. Grandma and Grandad love hanging out in Canmore, and it was so special to have all of us there at the same time.

gma and gdad opening presents

When the family gets together at xmas, we tend to draw toward our instruments. This is the only time I truly enjoy xmas carols…playing and singing them with the family.  A bit cliché, but whatever.

perhaps this is repetitive, but I can’t help it

gdad

The skiing in Alberta was pretty mediocre. It was TONS of fun, but there was so little snow there it was crazy. You definitely have to be prepared to sacrifice a pair of skis! Check out the lift ramp:

yeah, pretty bad

After a week in Canmore, I headed back to Bend/Klamath for a day (well, I was hoping it would only be a day…more on this later). Going home during xmas break is the best time to return. So many old ski racing friends were home! It was lovely to get to see everyone again, and especially to ski with them! We had a reunion in Sunriver one night….

Dana and me…yeah, that’s a hundred dollar bill in my hair. hah.

I saw so many old friends! I planned on having dinner with Kiri, Karli, and Dana, but dinner turned into the beginning of a fun night with Jeff, Chadd, Kiri’s boyfriend Randall, Elise, and Courtney. How wonderful it was to see them all again and to catch up.

teehee

beloved Chadd

Kiri and Randall

Did I mention the skiing? La Niña is my friend. 5 feet of new snow at Bachelor while I was there. I haven’t skied powder that good in a long time, nonetheless at Bachelor! It was cold, light, and fluffy…a dream.

So I am still sitting in the airport in Klamath Falls….I have been working on flying for a while now. I slept 3 hours through my alarm yesterday morning, and of course there was nobody there to wake me up, so I missed flight #1. Then, on try #2, I boarded my plane and approached the runway only to find out that the plane was broken. Fun! So I woke up this morning at 4 and I am still waiting for my “frozen” plane to board and hopefully depart so I can get back to Europe and back to racing!

Well, that’s it for all. Peace and love, and have a marvelous new year…it’s going to be a good one.

XOXOXO -Laurenne

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment