Saturday 25 Jan 2020 On this trip we have realised that the flexibility of an Interrail ticket is a wonderful thing, if you are happy not booking hotels more than a day in advance and generally flying by the seat of your pants. Today was a perfect example of this.
On her trip into Innsbruck yesterday Christine had seen the Hahnenkamm slope and read that the downhill race was today. Probably Austria’s biggest sporting event of the year! The trip over the Alps to Italy was put back a day and an early train taken to get to the slope. The train was soon jam-packed with ski supporters, with many of the young men carrying large packs of beer cans and the girls packs of cider or alcopops.
By 9am there was much singing and dancing on the train, and then a huge cheer when the conductor announced there would be an unplanned stop at the station by the ski slope. The expected 2 hour journey with connections suddenly took under an hour.
Christine paid her €30 entrance and found a place on the mountain with good views of the finish, the big screen and the slope, which was so steep. In no way do photos or TV coverage give a true impression of just how steep it was. The event itself seemed like a cross between a sporting event and a beer festival. During the long wait for the first skier there was a spirited rendition of the Austrian national anthem and an interview with the main VIP, that son of Austria and former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The atmosphere was electric as the racing started. Christine was between the fan club for one of the Austrian skiers who went mental when he went into the lead, and a long line of well-built Swiss men carrying enormous cow bells which they rang whenever a Swiss was racing. Austria was celebrating at the end as they came first and joint second with big rivals Switzerland.
It was a wonderful, unrepeatable day.