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Jet lagged and still traveling

Shauna Farnell

The Alps are truly magical. I know I live in a beautiful place, but the Colorado Rockies just don’t measure up to the Alps. From the hotel back windows here in San Sicario, you look directly out at a sheer, broad face of an adjacent mountain that towers over the narrow valley below like God.

I walked up to the Olympic race course for women’s downhill and super-G. It’s surrounded by a giant stadium, which, while impressive, is still undergoing the finishing touches. There were a couple of Swiss TV crew guys on skis – the only two in sight – who came down the course and could be heard a mile a way on the hard frozen, thawed and refrozen snow. They said the course was longer than most that the women are used to on the World Cup circuit, but I’ve heard from the racers that it’s not particularly challenging. This, in a sense, will make the racing that much more competitive.

I took a jaunt to Torino today. It amounted to seven total hours on the bus. The trip began with me flagging down a bus (an enormous coach that looked like it’s made for an NBA team. They are the official “Olympic Family” buses) on the road here in San Sicario and asked where he was going (in Italian of course, it’s amazing how one can jumpstart a language when necessity comes into play). It was the bus I needed to Oulx, where I could get a connecting bus to Torino. Yup. It was about three hours each way.

The main media center in Torino is something else. I was worried about not getting enough exercise to combat all of the great Italian food I’ll be eating, but if I have to walk three miles around security fencing to find the entrance to wherever I’m going throughout the Olympics, I should be all set for keeping my saddle bags in check.

The athletes are beginning to arrive now. The U.S. Snowboarding Team was in Torino this afternoon, many of them fresh off the boat. I talked to Andy Finch (from Truckee, Calif.,) and was amused to hear that I wasn’t the only one listening to a squalling baby on the long, long flight. Poor Finch was stuck in the back row, in the middle seat, surrounded by a packed plane, coughing people and incessantly crying children. Like the rest of us though, he was in good spirits.

The security has a few people upset; namely, a British guy in the entrance tent near the metal detector who was freaking out that his lighter was confiscated. Like an idiot, I left a pocket knife (a really nice one that a friend gave me) in my bag, which I handed over to the polizia upon entering the media center, then forgot to go back for it. It was nightfall by the time I started my hike around the security fencing, which I’m sure, accounted for some of why I got so lost trying to find the buses. Hectic as it may be once the Games begin this weekend, I won’t be upset to stick around the mountains and avoid the bus journeys. Shame that all the rubbing-shoulders opps this week require a trip to the big city.


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