Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mountain Surgery Olympics

     Each and every September Roca Jack gets a face lift. Because when the Olympic teams arrive, she's got to look nice. So the machines spruce her up. Up and down they go, plowing away the wrinkles and the ruggedness. Oh they leave plenty of the old parts behind, you know, for those of us who don't wear flashy spandex. But the rest is groomed to ice, poked with gates, and skied sooooo fast. From Roca the course veers skier's right, where it intersects with El Decenso, briefly crossing Juncalillo. For most of the season, El Decenso is a rolling powder field. Not until it too is completely resurfaced does Portillo's renowned training run materialize.

     Up and down they go, faster than the machines and more entertaining, the best ski racers in the world. Everyone recognizes the big names (Mancuso, Vonn, Lund Svindal), but they're all breakneck. You gotta see it. And you can - no one is here. We aren't hosting a World Cup race, there are no crowds. Just a few appreciative fans and their heroes. In line yesterday, I watched three gringos meet "one of their favorites," Aksel the man. Pictures were taken, casually, and the five of us grabbed the next t-bar. More chatter. The Norwegian gold-medalist bombed down the course minutes later, the four of us watching and shaking our heads. This is why Roca Jack gets the special treatment, I thought. For them and for us. They train, we watch. They ski, we ski. Aksel wins the super-combined next season and those three gentleman can say they watched him get there. Welcome to Portillo.

Roca Jack to Decenso... to victory?!

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