Saturday, February 19, 2011

Olympics in Innsbruck

Lisa and I hit up Innsbruck in mid-January to ski and see the sights.  Innsbruck hosted the Olympic Games in 1964 and then again, twelve years later, in 1976.  The Olympic stadium -- and ski jumping venue -- is known as the Bergisel.  The stadium is easily visible from most parts of the valley -- it is perched on a hill -- thus offering sweeping views of the valley and mountains across the valley.  This is the view of the valley from the bottom of the ski jump:

Dusk settling on Innsbruck.
The ski jumper's view from the top of the track.  There is a cemetery just beyond the stadium...just sayin'.
Looking back up toward the top from the bottom.
Innsbruck hosted the games in 1976 only because Denver -- the city first awarded the games -- withdrew in 1972 citing cost and environmental impact.
The city of Innsbruck is relatively hip and young -- there is a large student population -- and, not surprisingly, the restaurant offerings veer away from the standard Austrian fare.  We found a Nepalese restaurant -- I think it was called Himal -- that was fantastic with respect to both food and ambiance (you could sit on the floor!).  
Umm, curry.
There are a couple of small ski resorts pretty close to Innsbruck but since the snow cover was rather spartan, we decided to drive about an hour outside of Innsbruck to Stubaier Glacier.  As with many things about our life Austria, skiing on a glacier was a new experience for me.  But to be honest, it wasn't all that different from skiing on a regular mountain, except much more of the terrain was exposed, i.e. wide open bowls and few, if any, trees.  The expansiveness of the resort -- and the mountain range it's situated in -- reminded me of the scenes from the 1993 film about the flight carrying the Uruguayan rugby team ("Alive") that crashed in the Andes Mountains and the awe elicited when they summit a mountain only to see snow-covered mountain after endless snow-covered mountain beyond it.

Wind-packed snow and a mild day...epic!
The view of the t-bar from the other side of the bowl.
So many turns, so little time...
"I think you should hit that sweet jump down there."
"OK, but what will I get for it (aside from your adoration)?"
A Radler and semi-edible hot dog...score!

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