Postcard from Ridnaun

25.Jan.2012 by Hannah Dreissigacker

Its funny how things work–first I didn’t make any plans for my season, hoping to qualify to race in the IBU cups.  Then when I raced poorly and didn’t qualify for that, I decided that I didn’t want to set myself up for more frustration, so I made plans for the season that didn’t involve biathlon at all.  I almost went to the eastern cup instead of the biathlon NorAms in Jericho, but I decided that they might be my last biathlon races of the year, so I should go.  And then SURPRISE, even with poor shooting in the races, I was named to the biathlon U-26 team!  And a few days later I was on my way to Europe.  As I write this, I’m in the van on the way to Osrblie, Slovakia, where the races will be held.  Crazy!

I came over a few days early to get adjusted to the time change and to train in Ridnaun, Italy where several other members of the team were training.  I’d heard that Ridnaun is beautiful, and that it always either sunny or snowing.  When I arrived it was snowing like crazy. and in the first day I was there we got at least a food of fresh fluffy powder.  It was a winter wonderland!  After a few days of snow, the sun came out and I got to see the big beautiful mountains that surround the little valley.  It really is something of a paradise.  But enough writing, let me show you some pictures!

 Oberauerhof, our home away from home.  It was right on the ski trails, and not far from the end of the valley.

Oberauerhof, our home away from home. It was right on the ski trails, and not far from the end of the valley.

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Along with a nice range and well-groomed biathlon trails, there was a ski trail that looped all around the valley and connected all the little villages and guest-houses.

Along with a nice range and well-groomed biathlon trails, there was a ski trail that looped all around the valley and connected all the little villages and guest-houses.

These snow guns probably won't need to get used for quite a while.

These snow guns probably won't need to get used for quite a while.

Susan came over during her time off between world cup races, and we went on a sledding adventure!  At the end of the valley, we got sleds out of the sled-shed, and then we hiked up a switchbacking trail that led to little hut (the Stadlalm).

Susan came over during her time off between world cup races, and we went on a sledding adventure! At the end of the valley, we got sleds out of the sled-shed, and then we hiked up a switchbacking trail that led to little hut (the Stadlalm).

We parked our sleds outside the stadlalm.

We parked our sleds outside the stadlalm.

And then we went inside and got delicious weissbiers!  Prost!

And then we went inside and got delicious weissbiers! Prost!

What took a half-hour to hike up took about 5 minutes to sled down.  It was so much fun!  I'd get going so fast and feel totally out of control, and then there would be a big switchback and I'd drag a foot and try to steer around the corner and sometimes I'd make it, and sometimes I wouldn't.

What took a half-hour to hike up took about 5 minutes to sled down. It was so much fun! I'd get going so fast and feel totally out of control, and then there would be a big switchback and I'd drag a foot and try to steer around the corner and sometimes I'd make it, and sometimes I wouldn't.

There were beautiful views on the way down.

There were beautiful views on the way down.

Nice-looking barn!  All of the buildings--houses, barns, sheds--are well-built in Ridnaun.  They obviously last for a long time and hold up a huge weight of snow all winter, and they are also beautiful to look at.

Nice-looking barn! All of the buildings--houses, barns, sheds--are well-built in Ridnaun. They obviously last for a long time and hold up a huge weight of snow all winter, and they are also beautiful to look at.

One afternoon we took the bus down to Sterzing, the bigger town at the base of the valley.  There were lots of fancy shops, and so many places to buy delicious-looking cheeses, sausages, breads, hand-made pasta…

One afternoon we took the bus down to Sterzing, the bigger town at the base of the valley. There were lots of fancy shops, and so many places to buy delicious-looking cheeses, sausages, breads, hand-made pasta…

Now, after spending 16 hours in the van yesterday (we got lost a bunch of times), I’m in Slovakia!  There’s a lot of snow here and it looks hilly and sunny and pretty cool out the window–so I’d better get off my computer and start exploring it!