Grappa, the official beverage of the Torino Games |

Grappa, the official beverage of the Torino Games

Shauna Farnell
Some fellow hooligan journalists and myself enjoy a jolting round of grappa in the press center following the Olympic slalom race in Sestriere on Wednesday. The bottle was almost gone in a matter of minutes as the fumes reached the nostrils of surrounding media.

If you want to feel like Bugs Bunny when he transforms into that big, orange monster, one eye ball bulging out after the next, then take a swig of grappa some time. The Italian fire water can wilt plants from across a room and should only be tasted in desperate circumstances.

Cheers, by the way, to Vail’s Sarah Schleper.

Schlep, despite posting an incredible result for the gimpy U.S. Ski Team, was eager to discuss her next topless photograph in the Vail Daily.

“I’m ready for it,” she informed me between slalom runs on Wednesday, before putting down a 10th-place result, the best for the American team.

Apparently, the journalists aren’t the only ones chasing their days’ work with booze. When asked for her craziest story from the Games thus far, Schlep said, “I don’t think we can really put it in the paper,” and indicated that there might have been a fair amount of revelry following Ted Ligety’s combined gold medal last week.

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The most telling activity Wednesday was sticking around to talk to the last racer in Wednesday’s race – Neha Ahuja, from India. The Olympics really are a totally different story for these skiers from non-skiing countries that bring up the rear of the pack on the race course.

People aren’t falling over themselves to interview these girls, and the stadium is nearly empty by the time they finish, but the glow on their faces is a thing to look twice at. It has nothing to do with going for a medal, or even getting close to the top-30.

I’m glad I hung around in the bitter cold fog and snow to see it on Wednesday.

The aforementioned swig of grappa was drunk mainly for the purpose of clearing a trail through my full stomach. The most delightful smell in Sestriere can be traced to a small cart in the center of the village, where a man with black hands stirs giant pans full of fire and steaming chestnuts. I bought the smallest bag of chestnuts and ate them in five minutes.

Another small cart down the way featured another one of those dazzling canisters of swirling chocolate. Hot chocolate in these parts has nothing to do with powder and hot water. Hot chocolate here is something akin to a giant bar of Ghiradelli liquefied. It comes with a spoon. I had two cups.

Not even the grappa has been able to put a dent in it.

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