There are many circumstances, scientifically definitely less relevant, that promote Ötzal and, in particularly Sölden, as one of the top destinations of thousands of ski enthusiasts. We are talking about a consistent crow of skiers who, almost regularly, since the end of the 90s meet up in Tyrol to celebrate the World Cup Opening ceremony
At the beginning of the ski competitive season, it is celebrated just as an propitiatory recurring event: wishes of a new winter to live all in one breath, enjoying the winter sunshine, the freezing wind sharply hitting the face in days of bad weather and the incomparable feeling of skis gently touching the snow on imaginary lines towards infinite landscapes.
Before the pandemic, in those days, Dorfstraße would become a swarm of people crowding Tyrol. In the afternoon, many specialty shops on the main street, would welcome the most popular acclaimed athletes. A long and strong hug between the champions and their fans, the many younger kids, but also the most faithful fans, ready to long waitings in line to get a signature or a photo of their idol. Long sessions of autographs that would overrun every store, and would involve all athletes, eager to find again that human connection of the public after the past long months spent getting ready with exhausting training sessions just for that one moment.
The extraction of bibs is the determining break between day and night. When the sun goes dow, all the athletes would go back to their rooms to rest, while the fans would kick off the restaurants’ tour to eat some traditional food, like the delicious cuts of meat, you’ll find at Wine & Dine, and cheer up the spirit with the hop from Tyrol.
A contagious euphoria would flare up in the main street of the town. This season the lively celebration might be a bit contained, but the enthusiasm will definitely not diminish. The presence of the audience, after the last silent edition of the past year, gives back to Sölden part of its charm, that actually takes place in this town.
The mornings of race are electifying and the caravan of men moving along a serpentine line to reach to the Rettenbach glacier is witness of it. The giant Slalom is a unstoppable step for the white circus that celebrates the return to races in one of the only steps of the circuit where men and women compete at the same time, the same weekend.
On Saturday it’s the women turn, and for our athlete Andreja Slokar, it will be her debut on the glacier of tyrol: “I’m super excited, but also a bit nervous”. A unique trail alternating a very steep and tough part with more flat and very complex areas. The mogul that projects the athletes on the last part of the track opens the door to fifteen gates where athletes give the final push. The tired muscles start trembling and the ski edges burn plunged in the ice of the most difficult descent of the whole Women’s Giant Slalom World Cup.
The end flattens along the plain area that has many times played an important role in determining the total time. Closing the race with a good direction and headway is fundamental to get a green light and raising throw the hands up towards the audience
Although for Andreja it will be the first time participating, for Alex Vinatzer it’s a whole different story. After sharing the bitter-sweet joy of a fourth place in Slalom the past year in Cortina, our two talented athletes will both face for the first time the uniqueness of Rettenbach.
After a few years growing up around the bendy poles, Alex will find again the pleasure of carving between wider gates and -with no doubt- the invitation to join the Italian team in the first annual Giant slalom will be the best opportunity to test his own condition: “I’m feeling good in GS, I can’t wait to start this new season. I’m confident”. These are the words of Alex, who has also a clear vision on what needs to be done: “I will have an high bib number, but everything is possible with a good first run”.
The best memory to bring back to the city is the feeling of season that is just around the corner, ready to welcome us with all the enthusiasm of what feels like a reunion. A long awaited winter, the moment when we will finally will be able to meet again with our greatest passions and flow fast through the sounds of snow.