Travis Ganong is an up-and-coming U.S. Ski Team Alpine racer. Ganong hails from Lake Tahoe, Calif. where he grew up skiing at Squaw Valley. In 2012, he finished 12th, a career best, on the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria. When he’s not racing, Ganong spends his time free skiing and even did some big mountain skiing this past summer in Alaska for Warren Miller’s latest film: Flow State. Ganong will be blogging for OnTheSnow throughout this World Cup season as he prepares for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
This is my sixth time, and fifth year in a row coming to Wengen, Switzerland. The first time was in the summertime with my family when I was. Ever since then, I have come here for one reason and that was to ski the famous Lauberhorn downhill course; once in a Europa Cup race and now four times racing on skiing’s biggest stage—the World Cup.
Wengen has to be in contention for one of the most-scenic towns in the world. It sits high in the Swiss Alps on the side of a 1,500-foot cliff that drops into a huge glacial valley comparable to Yosemite Valley in California. There are no cars allowed in this pedestrian friendly village. Instead, you see people dragging around sleds with their groceries and kids in tow, while each little hotel carries its guests’ luggage through the narrow streets on miniature electric vehicles.
Once you are here you leave the stress and fast-paced life of the rest of the world behind and are surrounded by nature, snow, ski lifts and endless mountains. I love coming here every season and just taking a week to relax and enjoy being in the mountains. That being said, it is tough relaxing knowing that every day we have to wake up and ski the longest and fastest (97 mph this year) Downhill track in the world. At the same time, Wengen is such a unique place and the Downhill is so fun, that the stress of the race is easy to overcome. World Cup race week in Wengen turns into a weeklong “retreat” in the Swiss Alps for the best Downhillers in the world.
Even though this town always has the same hotels and buildings, and the same train and beautiful mountains, coming here every year offers something different and new. Mountains are constantly changing if you take the time to notice and I actually love coming back to the same places every year and seeing how time and a different winter has changed the area. Okay, enough sitting on my computer typing away about how amazing and spectacular this place is. I’m off to go enjoy my weeklong retreat in the Swiss Alps and get focused for the Lauberhorn Downhill race. Hopefully we can hit 100 mph on race day!