Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Eiger Dreams

Is there a better way to stimulate one's corneas than to take a train ride across Austria and Switzerland? 

I couldn't help but think about what it would be like to grow up in a picturesque village like the one below with huge mountains in all directions.  You've never heard of the village below or the mountain behind it, but that's just the point.  It's like this everywhere in the Alps.  So many mountains, so little time!

We passed through St. Anton, home to one of the best ski resorts in Europe.  In 2001, the Salt Lake Olympic Committee sent me to St. Anton to observe weather support for the 2001 Alpine World Championships.  I felt this was an unnecessary expense, but they insisted, so I went.  I remember reading an article before we left saying that it was a great expert resort with a hedonistic nightlife.  If they were going to send me there, I was going to have a good time.

I have a lot of good memories from that trip, but here's my favorite.  On the day of the SuperG, we had a couple of hours to kill and went to the neighboring resort of Lech for a few runs.  We shared a chair with a local ski instructor who asked us, "who is the big American?"  We responded, "Daron Rahlves," to which he replied, much as Arnold Schwarzenegger might in the Terminator, "never heard of him."

Later that day, we were in the finish area for the SuperG as the race unfolded.  The Austrians were placed 1-2-3, with the nearly unbeatable Stephan Eberharter and Hermann Maier 1-2 as Rahlves raced down the course.  There were probably 30,000 Austrians in the finish area that day and what a frenzy they were in.  When Rahlves crossed the finish line and -0.08 posted on the board, the crowd fell silent except for two obnoxious Americans yelling "NEVER HEARD OF HIM."  We clanked beer mugs with Daron that night.   What an experience.

But I digress.  We arrived in Bern today and got an amazing view of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau in the distance.

 It has always been a dream of mine to visit the Jungfrau and see these behemoth giants up close. Work calls, however, as I'll be giving a talk and visiting with scientists at the University of Bern tomorrow.  Eiger dreams will remain unfulfilled this trip. 


  1. Wow. That is gorgeous scenery and a great story about Daron Rahlves!