I have arrived in a place where there is a unique and amazing ski culture! The mountains have lines to ski that make my mouth water, there are lifts spider-webing to reach all of them, I can have a gourmet meal for lunch at any number of restaurants on piste, and the Apres scene has banging beats and throngs of revelers there to rejoice in them after a long day on the slopes. In other words, I am in Ski Heaven..aka..the Alps.
St Anton, Lech, Zurs, Stuben, St.Christoph
This is a jewel of the European skiing community! I arrived in St Anton after skiing Mt Brighton, Michigan. I skied the 250 foot hill and then headed to the airport for an afternoon flight to Munich. It all gelled and before I knew it I was driving 3 hours to St Anton. I arrived after pulling over and napping bundled in my puffy to a town preparing for its opening day, and the most friendly tourist bureau I could ever hope for. As the first Epic racer there, I was privileged to get to have coffee with Wilma, the head of marketing for St Anton who informed me of the free Audi test drives the next day, and Krampus festival during the opening day. The Audi would come in handy for two reasons. I demoed the rs4 and rallied through windy alpen roads for an hour, which is a life experience I will not forget.
The second, and more important for the race was on the first day skiing the resorts it snowed hard and the bus, and my rental car could not make it to Stuben so I test drove a Q5 which crushed the terrain covered in snow I needed to cover to capture the resort!
That night was Krampus festival which is a unique holiday tradition to say the least!
“Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Yule season who had misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair.
The history of the Krampus figure stretches back to pre-Christian Germanic traditions. He is sometimes said to be the son of Hel, from Norse mythology. He also shares characteristics, including goat-like ears, legs, feet, with the satyrs and fauns of Greek mythology. The early Catholic Church discouraged celebrations based around the wild goat-like creatures, and during the Inquisition efforts were made to stamp them out.
Countries of the former Habsburg empire have largely borrowed the tradition of Krampus accompanying St.Nicholas on 5 December from Austria. However, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia the mythological figure (called čert) evolved from the Slavic demon chort and although nearly the same in appearance, it comes from a tradition distinct from that of Alpine nations.”
Skiing in St Anton Area
I headed to Verbier, Switzerland from Arlberg to see what it offered and was amazed. I have never seen such lift access inspired free riding with steep sustained lines that fluidly wind there way for over 5000 feet of elevation. It hasn’t snowed in weeks here but the flying was out of this world, and the KEEN wing was happily at home in the Alps.
I have knocked off all the resorts now minus France, and have taken some time now to rest a ski injury from Austria. I am picking back up the hunt starting on the 14th and will be tied for first going into the last day along with at least 100 other racers. It should be an Epic finish!