Snow Daze

Two days of fantastic Dolomite skiing under our belts, Roberto and I rented an Alpha Romeo and exchanged teleferics for the kind of gondolas that float. Beth flew into Venice where we met her and all spent the day strolling the cobblestone streets along the waterways of this fabled Italian city.

I insisted that we do the most touristy of activities and hire a gondola to float the canals. We momentarily balked at the steep price, but hey… we were in Venice and I was being stubborn. As it turns out it was money very well spent – the trip through the back alleys and corridors was a stunning journey through time. We passed the flats of Mozart, Galileo and the summer home of Mussolini. We floated under the Rialto and through the Grand Canal. It was seriously like a dream – like being in a movie.
We stopped for a late lunch and then made the drive back up to Cortina. As we drove the weather started moving in and over the next three days it would snow about five feet.

The innkeeper of our hotel is married to a guy that used to race bicycles and he and Bob became fast friends. Aaron and Louisa took such great care of us and made the trip so much more than it could have been otherwise.
It turns out that skiing in Italy is not like skiing in the US. They actually don’t like it when it snows here and amazingly they close the lifts. The first day of the storm Aaron took us to Cinque Torri where there were 70 centimeters of new snow when we arrived. Thankfully, it had fallen so fast the area managers had not been able to yet shut down the lifts.

The snow kept falling making for an Etch-a-Sketch day, where you never cross your last track because so much new snow has fallen in-between runs. The slopes were absolutely deserted, we jokingly thanked Roberto for buying out the ski area for us. Aaron proclaimed that these were the best conditions he had skied in his twelve years there as he guided me through the trees and over some of the most fun drops I have ever done. It was one of the greatest ski days of my life!
At 3:30 the lifties informed us that they were closing the lifts early due to “bad weather” – read as: snow. We had been the only people riding the lifts since noon, so we were hard-pressed to justify ten guys standing around for another hour for just us. We loaded back into Aaron’s car and for the rest of the evening I honestly could not stop giggling. I mean people do not get to do this stuff!

The next day every ski area was closed down. Now far be it from me to tell another country how to run their tourist-based economy, but I do feel compelled to inform the Italian tourism board that skiing is a SNOW sport and thus not only does it require snow, but powder days are what bring in the hoards and thus the Euros. Around noon we finally found a running lift and we managed to milk another day of powder skiing out of the Dolomites.
FIS Women’s World Cup was supposed to be running training runs for the race starting the next day, but due to about 2.5 feet of snow on the course, it instead became a steep and buffed-out powder run that we poached all day.

Italy was an absolute dream! I am pretty sure I have gained 5kilos in the last week and undone the six months of cheese-free living I just endured. My legs are complete jello and my back is wrecked from sleeping on something softer than plywood, but I am blissfully happy and the memory of that day at Cinque Torri will bring a smile to my face for the rest of my life.


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