Goodbye Austria

Yikes!  It seems ages ago that I got off the plane in Munich while in reality it was only 5 days ago!  Where did those 5 days go?
Well, day number one was mostly a write off, apart from a nice an’ easy recovery ski in the PM.  
Monday’s highlight of the day was probably seeing a couple in a Grocery store in Ramsau buying their groceries while wearing ski boots!!  The sheer number of people out XC skiing on a Monday morning is very impressive.  Wish Canada was like this…
On Tuesday we explored Schladming (coolest name ever, right?) in the afternoon and it looked exactly like I expected a tiny European town to look–so I was psyched.
Wednesday was the most exciting day yet.  The plan?  A short distance skate time trial on the 1999 Nordic World Championship course in Ramsau.  Since Monday I had been having trouble with a sore neck and general fatigue and these problems had not been resolved by the time my 10:15 start time rolled around.  I debated even starting the time trial.  Luckily I decided to push through it and I came out feeling even better than before!!  Yay!
Thursday morning we said goodbye to Austria, at 9am, and embarked on what would become an epic journey.  Through snowstorms, under mountains, through Austrian restaurants and Czech gas stations we traveled.  We braved the peril of having to sit in a Czech gas station for over an hour while a windshield-wiper was fixed, and we braved a Mcdonalds, (seriously, these places are scary) in Praha (the real name for Prague, which might actually beat Schladming on my cool names list) in the hopes of getting directions out of Praha.  The drive took much longer than expected. 
Finally, over 12hrs later, we made it to the Hotel Babylon in Liberec which will be our home for the next over-a-week.
The first thing that hit me on arrival was how ridiculous the hotel Babylon is.  I’m gonna try to post up some sweet shots on twitter or facebook later, but, suffice it to say that it’s flamboyant in a gratuitous manner.  It has a Casino, a “4D theater”, a spa AND an aqua-park built in–so that illustrates things a bit.
We got into the crazy hotel around 10pm last night and got to bed around 11:30 after the epic journey.  Which finally brings me to today!
As much as I really liked being in Austria, I felt like there was something missing; I discovered what that was when we went out to ski on the race course today.  The few days that we spent in Austria had much more of a training camp feel to me.  Now–don’t get me wrong–I love training camps, but I am here to race.  And for me, at this point in the year, nothing beats the “racing atmosphere” whose air you start to breath that first day you show up to ski at the race site.
Although they don’t have all that much snow at the race site here and although they have very few trails open, the excitement of skiing on a World Cup course, with World Champs just a few days around the corner, is palpable.
So, to finish things up I will list my top 5 stokes and my top 5 annoyances of the past week (or so).


Here’s that bad first:
Neck pain: I had a super-sore neck for the first part of the trip in Austria and it was giving me symptoms similar to my big injury last year.  Stressful.

Eurosport: So far Eurosport has only played snooker and tennis.  Huge letdown.

No Soap: We had no soap in our bathroom in Austria!  Ahhhh!!!!!

Traffic: Turns out they have traffic in Europe too.  And we encountered it on our drive.

Annoying weather:  We drove through a very legit snow storm on our way here but all the land North of Prague, including Liberec and the race site, has very little snow.  So far the race course is a less-than-2.5km loop (but they do have the snowmaking machines running!).


And the Top 5 cool things:
European Yogurt drinks: ‘Nuff said.

National Team clothing: I am still soooo stoked about this gear.  Makes me feel way more pro than I actually am.

Wax support: We get our skis waxed every day!!  The support team is awesome.

Names of European hamburgers:  “Royal with Cheese!!!!”  If you don’t get the reference, watch Pulp Fiction right now!!

Race site: The course is really fun even though they only have a less-than-2.5km loop and it’s so cool to be skiing at a World Cup/World Champs site (they held World Champs in 2009 I think).


Only a few more days to go till the first race day!

Dream big, people–and check out the sweet picture below!!
Schladming

The Dachstein Glacier is up there somewhere

More Schladming

Yogurt Drinks!!

Cool woodwork on our balcony in Austria

Inside of the main room in our lodgings in Austria

A “Royal with cheese!!!!”

These last three pictures are taken from the hill above the stadium at the race site in Liberec

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