Italian Ups & Downhills: One Olympic Skier's Fave & Feared World Cup Stops

14th January 2014 | Travis Ganong

News Regions: Austria, British Columbia, Colorado, Germany, Italy, Russia, Switzerland

Resorts in this article: Beaver Creek, Bormio, Garmisch Classic-Skigebiet, Kitzbühel, Lake Louise, Val Gardena - Gröden, Wengen

Camel Jumps, Val Gardena

Looking back up at the takeoff of the Camel Jumps, Val Gardena.

Copyright: Travis Ganong

I have had some amazing adventures over the last few weeks racing on the World Cup Tour. After kicking things off up in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek, I headed over to Europe on December 5th. Ski racing over here is as big as football back home, and it has been amazing to see all the passionate fans and familiar faces cheering us on as we send it and try to win racing down the toughest downhill and super G tracks on the planet!

Our first stop across the pond was in Val Gardena Italy on the famous Saslong slope high up in the Italian Dolomites. Skiing amongst towering limestone pinnacles down into picturesque alpine villages makes Val Gardena one of the most scenic race venues in the world. Along with the skiing, we enjoyed the best pasta of the season at Hotel Alpino Plan where the U.S. and Canadian teams have been staying for decades.

Travis Ganong got a chance to meet up with girlfriend, Marie-Michele Gagnon between World Cup races to unwind a bit. Here they are exploring Innsbruck.

Copyright: Travis Ganong

It’s a great first race week to kick off the European ski-racing season and the downhill itself is spectacular with the biggest, (and most frequent) jumps of the season! You leave the ground 17 times on one run down the Saslong—making it the most fun downhill on tour in this skier's opinion.

The next stop on the World Cup circuit was in Bormio, Italy, one of the oldest cities in the Alps. It is situated at the end of this super long valley that digs and winds itself deep into the heart of some of the biggest mountains in Europe right near the border of Italy, Austria and Switzerland. With all the massive mountains surrounding it, Bormio is a really hard place to get to but well worth the drive over the high mountain passes. It seems like every winter when the rest of the Alps are hurting for snow, this little pocket of Italy always delivers, and I’ll definitely be back for some powder and freesking one day.

As always a very white and snowy drive to Borimo. Note to self: come back and powder ski here.

Copyright: Travis Ganong

As for the downhill, it is the first true test of the season. All the World Cups leading up to Bormio are relatively easy. Lake Louise, Beaver Creek and Val Gardena are usually smoother, shorter and less stressful to ski, where as Bormio is long, dark, bumpy and very challenging… you will know after the first training run down this beast if your summertime conditioning was good or not.  

I am pretty fired up with my season so far. I have had some great results and am looking forward to my first Olympics in Sochi—less than a month away! But before that, I’ll be focused on the big World Cup stops coming up the next three weeks with Wengen, Kitzbuhel and Garmisch. Wish me luck!  

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