The European experience |

The European experience

Alice McKennis
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Alpine Canada, Malcolm Carmichael

Editor’s note: The Post Independent’s sister publication, The Aspen Times, is partnering with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association this winter to provide firsthand accounts, results and weekly updates on the Roaring Fork Valley’s world-class athletes. In this installment of “Athlete Spotlight,” New Castle’s Alice McKennis discusses skiing overseas.

People love skiing over here in Europe. Skiing on a weekday in Austria is like spring break in Aspen – it’s just packed, with people all over the hill.

There are some differences; people in Aspen generally keep things under control on the slopes, but over here in Austria it’s like people are trying to channel their inner Hermann Maier even if they are in rear-entry boots and skiing on 150s. They go extremely fast (generally in the back seat) and without regard for their own life or anyone else’s. People don’t cruise on the groomed runs; they send it and hope it works out.

Just the other day, I was in line for the T-bar and one woman was so excited to get on that she decided to crash into me. I slammed into a wooden fence. I wasn’t that psyched, and we exchanged some words – she in German, myself in broken German/English/Spanish and whatever language came to mind. I will admit that I probably didn’t promote U.S.-foreign relations very well during that situation.

Aside from the out-of-control skiing, it is really cool to be in a country where skiing is the national sport and see how much passion and love for the sport people have.

I know that people in the Roaring Fork Valley love skiing, but there isn’t the same national love for sport as there is in Austria.

Driving over here is also quite the experience. If you don’t accelerate as fast as you can from a stop sign and then slam on the brakes at the next stop sign, about 50 yards down the road, you should expect an angry European driver to tailgate you for the next 20 kilometers up a gnarly mountain road to the ski hill. It’s all in good fun, though; they just really want to get on the mountain so they can ski. I can’t blame them really, because the skiing is pretty good over here right now. Austria has quite a bit more snow that Colorado, but I think La Nina will be back and dump on Colorado again this winter.

I will be in Europe until the end of February, and I have six weekends of racing ahead of me. We will travel to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Russia.

This coming weekend, we race downhill and super-G in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria. After missing last winter with a broken tibial plateau, I am really looking forward to lots of skiing and racing.

It has been just a year since I did the super athletic move of crossing my tips training super-G while going 60 mph and pulverizing my tibial plateau.

It’s been a long year to get back to skiing and racing, but it feels great to get past the one-year mark and I’m ready to give it everything and see what happens.

Happy New Year everyone, and have a great season in Aspen. I can’t wait to ski there in March!

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