Ridnaun, Italy

23.Feb.2011 by Susan Dunklee

Schneeberg Panorama

Towering snow covered peaks and warm blue skies greeted our team as we drove up the Ridnaun valley last Friday to the site of U-26 Biathlon Championships.  Our home for the week is the Schneeberg Hotel, a four star resort complete with a giant spa wing and five course dinners.  Do you know the difference between a Finnish Sauna, a Finnish Sauna Vitarium, a Tyrolean Sauna, and a Climate Sauna, and a Caldarium?  Neither did I, but I’m learning.  The accommodations are amazing, and practically all the teams are staying in this giant hotel.  My only complaint is the party tent next door that plays Oompah music all day and pop music late into the night.

The biathlon venue is literally right out the back door and we’ve hardly had to use our van since we got here.  Our first race was an Individual format, biathlon’s longest race.  Instead of doing penalty laps, each missed target results in a one minute penalty.  I had a rough start to the race, missing 5 targets out of the first 10, but cleaned the rest to end up in the top fifteen.  Racing action continues tomorrow with relays.  My job is to be a super-fan for the day since we don’t have enough women here for a relay team.

“Are we going the right way?  This doesn’t exactly look like the Schneeberg…”  Kudos to Ethan for maneuvering the rickety Czech rental (a stick shift) up mountainside on very narrow switchbacks.  A more amazing achievement: he got us back down again when we dead-ended.

“Are we going the right way? This doesn’t exactly look like the Schneeberg…” Kudos to Ethan for maneuvering the rickety Czech rental (a stick shift) up mountainside on very narrow switchbacks. A more amazing achievement: he got us back down again when we dead-ended.

The Schneeberg

The Schneeberg

Other USBA athletes who have been to Ridnaun told me I had to find a certain shed full of sleds while I was here.  Kelly Kjorlien and I went looking and were rewarded with a ride down the mountainside.

Other USBA athletes who have been to Ridnaun told me I had to find a certain shed full of sleds while I was here. Kelly Kjorlien and I went searching and were rewarded with a ride down the mountainside.

My biathlon teammates had also told me wonderful things about the Schneeberg’s weekly dessert buffet.  Grace and I checked it out.

My biathlon teammates had also told me wonderful things about the Schneeberg’s weekly dessert buffet. Grace and I checked it out.

Local children on their way to opening ceremonies.  I think all the school children in the valley must have played some role in the ceremonies.  The best part was a fairy tale skit featuring a fight scene between knights and very young dwarves.

Local children on their way to opening ceremonies. I think all the school children in the valley must have played some role in the ceremonies. The best part was a fairy tale skit featuring a fight scene between knights and very young-looking dwarves.

This giant groomer can set 4 classic tracks at once.  Ethan and Raleigh scoped it out and discovered that it has a computerized touch screen in the cab.

This giant groomer can set 4 classic tracks at once. Ethan and Raleigh scoped it out and discovered that it has a computerized touch screen in the cab.

On the way to the range, we walk by the Schneeberg’s biomass boiler complex.   The wax cabins are in the foreground.

On the way to the range, we walk by the Schneeberg’s biomass boiler complex. The wax cabins are in the foreground.

Mixing it up on the sidelines of the guys’ individual race with our friendly neighbors to the north.  L to R: Rosanna Crawford, Claude Godbout, Grace Boutot and Corrine Malcolm.

Mixing it up on the sidelines of the guys’ individual race with our friendly neighbors to the north. L to R: Rosanna Crawford, Claude Godbout, Grace Boutot and Corrine Malcolm.

Wynn Roberts grabs a feed from coach Pat Coffey partway through his 20 km.

Wynn Roberts grabs a feed from coach Pat Coffey partway through his 20 km.