Åre Mountain Games
Åre is a small ski resort in the middle of Sweden. Somewhere between 500 and 1000 people live there year round, but during winter time the population sky rockets. The village is nestled between a wide river and a steep mountain. The town was gearing up for the 2007 World Ski Championships, so most of the town was being rebuilt.
The course was a high speed 1.5 mile run with two hairpins.
The race was part of the Åre Mountain Games. This is one of many summer festivals that Åre hosts. It is a week long festival with events in many edgy sports. Kayaking, paragliding, rock climbing, mountain biking. A lot of the infrastructure, course workers, registration, and stuff, were provided by the Games.
Monday, July 3
Monday was the first day of practice, but I was traveling with Dave Auld and we were sight seeing in Stockholm, and decided to drive up on Monday. We got to the hotel just before 7:00pm just before the front desk closed. We got settled in and then took off for the race track. We tried to walk to the course, but it turns out its about a mile or so down the road from our hotel. So he jumped in the car, and headed up to the course, only to find everyone was packing up and heading in. Turns out the bugs come out in force about 8 pm.
It was off to find some dinner in town. The main area of town was a small square with a few restaurants off of it, with a path leading down to the old train station. Several tents were set up in a grassy area off this path for the Mountain Games. We spotted what looked like the podium.
Tuesday, July 4
Åre is fairly close to the Artic Circle and with the summer solstice just a couple weeks ago the sun sets fairly late, around 11:00 PM, and rises just after 3:00 AM. Which means it never really gets dark.
We had a riders meeting in town about 3:00 PM, and then the buses transported the riders to hill. The view at the end of the run was quite spectacular.
Late in the afternoon I got involved in an accident in a high speed straight. It is a shame that an accident occurred on what was essential day 1 of riding for several of us with two more days of practice. Dave Dean was behind me, and rode off the road trying to avoid me. When I got up from my accident, I knew some one else went off the road, but I stood up and looked around and saw no one. I was about ready to get on my board and head down the hill when I thought I heard something. I looked around and saw a path through the foot tall grass next to the road. I started to head over to the path, when I heard someone scream "I broke my leg and I'm in a stream." Dean ended up about 50 feet off the road, in the forest. If he hadn't screamed, I wouldn't have even known he was there. Dean was lying in a little ditch, and had hurt is knee. While we had some great paramedics on the course, we had to wait for the ambulance to arrive.
I was a little shaken up after the accident. The whole time I sat with Dave, as the paramedics worked on him, I was thinking that could have been me. It wasn't his fault he wrecked, and we don't really know how he hurt is leg, he things he cart wheeled and his foot slammed into the ground. It is possible he hurt the foot when he tried to kick my board. Needless to say I decided I had enough riding for the day.
After dinner we went to +Asia to hang out. A little after midnight I went for a walk around cam, I wanted to get a picture of a clock in the middle of the night. As I was looking for a clock I found some of the skateboarders practicing their sliding.
Wednesday, July 5
The cool thing about a late start to practice is you can sleep in late, and still have plenty of time to do things. I got up early and had some pastries and one of the bakeries in town.
Today was the last day of practice. Bettina showed up with some popcorn for her infamous popcorn song. With qualifying starting tomorrow Marcus was doing tech inspection.
Many of us quit when the bugs showed up, but with almost a dozen runs in it was a decent day of practice. The American contingent headed to the Holiday Club, the largest building in Åre, for dinner. The Holiday Club is a large hotel with plenty of entertainment options (bowling, mini golf) right on the water.
There was supposed to be a riders meeting at the bar at 10, of course it started a bit late..You can tell where I am standing from the photo, I discovered this is NOT a good place to stand. They hit a dozen balls, I think ONE went more than about 10 feet.
Thursday, July 6
We made it up to the top of the mountain this morning.
There was a riders meeting
Since standup was going to qualify first, we had some time to kill. I stopped off at Little America (where a good portion of the Americans were staying)
The standup guys had just finished their first run.
As the afternoon progressed, we watched clouds roll in. There were quite a few standup riders, and we didn't start street luge until fairly late. But we got started just in time for it to rain! Fortunately we were able to take a warmup run on the wet course. I am not sure what happened, but both Busse and Auld spun out in front of me, on the straight section! Dave Dean, despite having an injured ankle wanted to take a qualifying run, so he could get points for the race.
Waiting through the evening, people tried everything to keep the bugs away. The course workers wore nets. Others did what they could.
As soon as buttboard qualifying was over, we high tailed in into town. After a quick shower we decided it was too late to eat anywhere else in town as most restaurants closed at 10. We made it to +Asia to get the last of the athlete's dinners. We ate dinner and watched the World Cup semis of Italy vs Germany. The bar was fairly empty, I guess most stayed home to watch the game. Everyone was pleased that Italy won, apparently the Swedes were upset because Germany had beat them.
One of the coolest things about the apartments we were staying in, were these heater/dryers. Åre is a ski resort. Most of our rooms had boot heaters, and these cabinets that warm air was blown into. I am guessing that the dryers were for drying your fleece and other underclothing. I stuck my gloves in mine to dry. In Little America, their dryer was large enough that they stuck their leathers inside! Nothing like having nice dry equipment.
Friday, July 6
We woke up to race day. Because today's race was in the printed schedule, we had to have an early start. The plan was to start the standup race first, as it was currently nice, and it may rain later. It was supposed to be a 64 man bracket, which means it would take several hours to run the standup race. We decided to take it easy and head up to the track after the racing started. We showed up a little after noon, in time to watch the first round.
And then we waited.
These races went quickly and we moved into the street luge races.
Finally the standup bracketing was fixed. They restarted the standup race.
The standup race was put on hold, and the buttboard race was held. Kessler borrowed Busse's board
By the time we got back to the top the course was almost completely dry! They decided to finish the standup race. But it was 8:30, I was tired and hungry. We packed up, raced down the hill, cleaned up, and walked into the restaurant minutes before 10:00 PM. Thankfully the decided to server us!
We all packed into the small +asia for the awards ceremony and after party.
[my batteries died at this point, I got the rest of the podium shots, but I still need to get them]
The trophies were medallions with first place earning a nice bowl.
And then we partied. The bar was pretty small, and there was a lot of dancing going on. As the night wore on, apparently shirts came off.
Saturday, July 7
Auld and I had planned to drive back to Stockholm today. But we decided to stay and go paragliding. But of course it rained all day! Instead I took my time packing and cleaning the apartment. Then we kind of just chilled out all day. I watched some of the Mountain Bike finals, as the finish line was right in the center of town!
We had dinner at an American Bar.
That evening a the Mountain Games after party was held at the Holiday Club. The party was a little more mellow than our after party. But once again people had a bit too much to drink.
The Mountain Games was a pretty cool event. There is a small town with plenty of hotels, and restaurants. There was also a hardware store not far from where the riders meeting was held everyday. I even managed to find a new digital camera in town when mine broke! There is discussion of changing the course next year to have the finish line in town. As a complete package it was a very nice race to attend. While there were a lot of falls and scrapes and bruises, I think Dean's injury was the only serious one. In the end he ended up with a hairline fracture in his foot.