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A great time for gold

Shauna Farnell

There’s always a chance that low-key people like Julia Mancuso won’t be suitably gleeful when they become Olympic champions.

Mancuso defeated any such fears.

Not normally one to elaborate, or sometimes complete a sentence, Mancuso was eager to discuss every element of her giant slalom win, not to mention that of her distant “my grandfather’s father’s mother who was abandoned at a church in Bologna long ago” Italian roots.



Her stunned happiness was as pure as it comes.

A few of us had a special round of grappa dedicated to Mancuso (which I hope she appreciates, because some of us are still experiencing perplexing, partial-limb convulsions).

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



Julia’s gold provided a lift that couldn’t come at a better time. I felt a little better today (still no phlegmy cough), but had another bus “adventure” this morning.

By now, the buses coming and going from San Sicario (where I live in a very isolated, yet luscious hotel) are becoming progressively infrequent.

When I slopped uphill through the mud (not to sound like a story from your grandmother), to the bus to Sestriere, the driver told me it would be another 25 minutes before departure.



Wanting to do anything but spend more time on a bus, especially a motionless one, I decided to cut off a few stops by walking up the hill and dropping down the road a bit on the cable car. Once getting off the cable car at the bobsled venue, at which I know from dozens of daily trips there is indeed a bus stop, I followed the signs that said “exit” to a chained gate manned by four Torino 2006 staff. I pointed to the gate, through which I could see the bus stop 15 yards away, and they shook their heads.

“Exit no more,” one of them said.

“I need the bus,” I told them in Italian, as my bittersweet attitude towards Italians began to take a swing toward the bitter.

“You need … go around,” the guy said, motioning to the path that ascended and descending the hill for a half mile before reaching another opening in the fence through which one could reach the bus stop. Going to great lengths to stifle myself, I whipped around and stomped back to the cable car, where I finished the downhill trip to Cesana and stood at the media bus stop to Sestriere.

Perhaps because I was the only person standing at the stop, two buses, each half-full (or empty, as it seemed before Mancuso’s gold) blew by me, the drivers not so much as averting their eyes. I moved along to the local bus stop, and was joined by an older Italian couple yelling or laughing (still not sure) until a bus showed up 10 minutes later.

I boarded the bus and was met with a distinctive stench of old folk’s home. It was packed, and I thought for a second about all the germs feeding my foreboding illness. But hey, I was pointed in the right direction. I was finally on my way.

Five minutes later the bus came to a squeaking halt in the middle of nowhere. A kid, maybe 11 years old and his mom, stepped off and got back on a few minutes later, the kid wiping his mouth. The bus driver handed him a plastic bag. Five minutes later the bus stopped again and I could here him wretching.

I felt kinda sorry for the little guy, but at the same time, I zipped my coat up over my face and wondered why the hell a mother would want to take her retching child to stand outside in the blustering cold for an Olympic event.

When we arrived down the hill from Sestriere, everyone on the bus began standing up and shuffling around, confused as to whether or not this was the right stop. This went on for 10 minutes. Finally everyone sat back down. I quelled an urge to scream out in ear-piercing American English, “Let’s $#cking go!”

Undoubtedly, I was a little on-edge.

But then Mancuso took gold and the air has since been filled with mirth and unicorns.

Boy, I needed it.


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