Peace at last

After a hectic few days for the village, all is peaceful today.  The dismantling of the race facilities continues and there are a few skiers around, but today has been like any sunny day in last year’s lost season, quiet with great skiing.

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                                           Sun in the afternoon 

This weekend, the centre of attention passes over the Lauterbrunnen valley to Murren, where the Inferno races take place.  Good luck to those who are taking part in this epic, slightly crazy event.

An exceptional day brought 11,594 vertical metres in 24 lift rides and 65 kilometres travelled.  This blog will be taking a break for a while from tonight.  Thank goodness, I hear you mutter.  

End of the day

It is Sunday evening and the last day of the Lauberhorn weekend is over. Already, the race courses and the spectator facilities are part dismantled.  In a few days there will be little evidence that anything happened here this last week.

The local fans had to be content with one win over the four days.  Lucas Braathen of Norway won today, beating Daniel Yule of Switzerland.  The Swiss racer’s fan club seemed to take it well though as late in the afternoon they invaded the Co-op in boisterous mood in search of more beer.  It might be a quiet start to to the week for many Swiss businesses.

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                                            More blue sky

This morning seemed colder than the last couple of days. There was a chilly wind to accompany the blue skies. The mountain was quiet yet again. The slalom takes place in the natural amphitheatre that is Innerwengen and the best views are achieved on foot, so there were few skiers heading for the race. All in all, perfect skiing conditions.

A slightly shortened day of quick skiing brought 10,899 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 59 kilometres travelled.

Lauberhorn

This morning a clear sky heralded another sunny day. The crowds arrived and the 2022 edition of the Lauberhorn downhill took place in perfect conditions. The village was packed by 9.30am, with a queue into the high street for trains to Scheidegg and another shorter queue for the cable car. On the hill, each car of the gondola from Grindelwald was full with people intending to ski over to the downhill course.

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                             Patrouille Suisse were here…

As usual, I failed to photograph the Patrouille Suisse display, but they definitely turned up on what must have been a fantastic day for flying. I was in the village in the early evening and it was jumping, this notwithstanding that an Austrian skier won the day.

As always on the big day, I avoided Scheidegg and travelled down on the Mannlichen cable car. A short day brought 5,594 vertical metres in 14 lift rides and 37 kilometres travelled.

The party begins

Today saw the second race of the Lauberhorn weekend, a downhill won by Aleksander Kilde of Norway with Swiss racers Marco Odermatt (yesterday’s Super G winner) second and serial winner here, Beat Feuz, finishing third.

The race had a lower start line than the full Lauberhorn race, I suppose, as much as anything, to protect the status of tomorrow’s classic. Still, a win on the roller coaster ride of the Wengen downhill must be something special however long the race.

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                                   From the Lager chair

Late this afternoon, Wengen was party central, with large crowds and loud rock music. The air was filled with the smell of hot wine and grilling cheese. Pandemic or not, I am sure tomorrow will be lively on the hill and in the village.

Earlier, the contrast could not have been more marked. The cable car was running continuously and full on each trip, but the skiers were once more off to that parallel world which seems to exist on Mannlichen. The slopes were quiet in the morning and nigh on deserted in the afternoon. Even the run to Wengen was deserted, with more spectators on foot than on skis.

Another sunny day, warmer than it has been recently, brought 10,173 vertical metres in 21 lift rides and 56 kilometres travelled.

Super G

The first Lauberhorn week race since 2020 took place today, a Super G brought to Wengen for the World Cup schedule to catch up. Swiss racer Marco Odermatt won on the downhill course, shortened for this format, with a start below the Hundschopf. All three spectators were pleased. There were a few more people around really, but it was a low key day.

Tomorrow will be busier, even though spectator facilities for this year’s racing are limited. Friday is a race day every year and the prospect of an additional downhill, rather than the usual combined race, should bring a few people to the village.

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                                         From Lager in the afternoon 

The weather and the skiing continue to be spectacular. It was a cold morning, but warmed up to give perfect conditions. Long may they continue.

Another great day in the Bernese Oberland brought 10,968 vertical metres in 22 lift rides and 60 kilometres travelled.

Ready to race

Everything is ready for the Lauberhorn races, which begin tomorrow with a bonus event, a twice postponed Super G.  A sunny day is forecast and in the late morning, the Patrouille Suisse should blaze a trail across promised azure skies.

Will there be a crowd tomorrow?  It is still quiet in Wengen and this unexpected race may be poorly attended.  The Europa Cup races in past years have been watched by next to no one and Thursday may turn out to be the same. The television cameras will be there though and Wengen  should be looking its best.  

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                                                  Azure skies

This morning was cold yet again.  The sun shone and the skiing was excellent.  In fact, all pretty much the same as the last couple of days. I met Mrs IS at Scheidegg late in the morning.  There were few other people around and we enjoyed a sunny lunch stop before skiing on empty pistes in the afternoon.

Another wonderful day brought 10,187 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 55 kilometres travelled.

A better day still?

This blog has exhausted the superlatives dictionary on previous occasions, but the truth is the last couple of seasons have seen some of the best skiing we can remember in thirty or more years.

Today was another exceptional day. Was it a better day still than yesterday? It was sunnier, with a flawless blue sky, colder, as quiet and the snow was fantastic. However, there was something special about yesterday, with the snow fallen freshly and the skies clearing slowly, and so yesterday holds on to first place in the race for the best day of the season.

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                                                 Blue sky day

This morning I managed to reach the mountain without any diversions. The cable car wasn’t full of people quite, but it was full of enthusiasm for the day ahead. It is Tuesday of a working week, so the crowds never built up. There is race training on the Lauberhorn, but by the time I reached that part of the mountain, the World Cup teams had gone home. The only signs of the imminent races were some workers on the course and a few sets of race skis outside the last chalet before the Hotel Brunner, on the edge of the village.

Yet another memorable day brought 11,248 vertical metres in 24 lift rides and 61 kilometres travelled.

Needle in a haystack

It was a struggle get the day’s skiing underway this morning.  I had been to the village twice before I made it on to the cable car, having forgotten various bits and pieces on my first trek up the hill. When I finally made it to Mannlichen, I lost a contact lens almost immediately.  It fluttered on to the ground in front of me, but the sparkling snow meant finding it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I had a spare lens with me, but getting that into place in the freezing temperatures was a battle against time.

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                                           On Mannlichen 

When I reached the village for the second time, I had begun to think that the forecast was wrong and it wasn’t that cold at all. A brisk walk in five layers soon warms the Idle Skier.  Five minutes on Mannlichen convinced me that the weathermen had been correct.

After what seemed an eternity, I managed to get the day underway properly; and what a day.  The sun hid itself behind passing clouds occasionally, but for the most part it was sunny.  Above all, the cold, squeaky snow was perfect and disturbed by only a few skiers.  Last week saw the busiest day of the season to date, but today was the best day for a long time.

I left until late to head back to the village.  After the false starts, I needed to make the most of the day.  The racecourse is ready now, and the final run to Innerwengen was reduced to a narrow strip besides the catch fencing. The snow was perfect still though.

A slow start, followed by some majestic skiing conditions, brought 10,303 vertical metres in 21 lift rides and 55 kilometres travelled.

Stillness

It was snowing hard when the Idle Skiers woke this morning.  The cloud was low and heavy.  As so often when it has been snowing at night, there was a stillness to the day, as if nothing might move in a snow bound village.

The high street was quiet at 9.30am.  I had met a couple of people on the walk up, but save for the three of us, the village seemed deserted, quieter even than many mornings in last year’s lost season.

On Mannlichen, the snow wasn’t as heavy or as deep as I expected, but the skiing was still fantastically good.  My cable car was full, but the hill never became busy.  Occasionally, blue sky appeared.  Around mid-day it was desperately cold again.

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                                          Almost sunny

By mid-afternoon the mountain was almost deserted.  On the way home, the only skiers around were some Swiss army troops working on the downhill course near Bumps T bar. The races are a few days away.  It’s quite difficult to believe at the moment.

Another great day brought 8,211 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 48 kilometres travelled.

Perseverance rewarded

After a restless night, I reached the cable car later than usual.  It was quiet, as was the mountain.  It is Saturday, but only a few of the ski clubs were about. There was no comparison to be made with the crowds of Thursday. 

The weather played its part, I am sure. It was grey with low cloud, but also remarkably cold.  However, I made the most of the day and perseverance was rewarded.  By mid-afternoon, a pale sunshine lit the Wixi piste.  The last few runs of the day were as good as they get.

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                                                 From Gummi

On the way home, I found the racecourse closed, save for the section by Bumps T bar, and the red pistes to Innerwengen open. This is a good thing. The red variant to Mary’s cafe is a far more interesting and varied ski than the finish to the downhill course.

A shortened day brought 6,924 vertical metres in 15 lift rides and 38 kilometres travelled.