Hintertux Redux (part 2: A golden ticket)

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I just like to say a quick shout out to everyone who has dontated and supported so far. My crowdfunding has reached 73% of the target and has been crucial in enabling me to be here in Austria and train. Thank you all. If you haven’t donated yet you can still do so at: www.pledgesports.org/projects/tongan-skier-on-the-road-to-pyeongchang-2018/

October 13th – 16th

It’s funny how anxiety can manifest itself. I have four days before Hermann arrives with which to settle in, acclimatise and prepare for my first two weeks of coaching. Scouring the internet I found a cheap apartment to rent for my stay in Austria. Now that I am here I am racked with doubt: Is it too far from the glacier? Is it too small? Will the bedrooms be ok? Does the wifi work?

As I settle down I come to realise that a lot of my concerns are transferences of my greater anxiety about finally starting training. I didn’t realise I felt nervous. Perhaps now that I’ve had a couple of days to take stock it’s finally hit me.

Sunday we make a rest day, too many teams, too many people…” Hermann’s words rang in my ears as I sat on the bus up to the glacier. It was Sunday. Alone the winding road upwards felt daunting. I had travelled this road before with excitement now commitment pressed upon me as I ascended. Arriving at the lift station the scene was awash with brightly coloured snow seekers thudding around in helmets and boots, skis slung over one shoulder. Hermann was right, there were too many teams, too many people. Still I was determined to get a day or two skiing before he arrived to settle my nerves and prepare myself for the coming weeks.

First I had to buy a lift pass. This was milestone moment. Economies of scale had dictated the cheapest option to be a season ticket, the Tirol Snowcard. A golden ticket that would grant me unfettered access to arguably worlds richest skiing region for the entire winter and spring. This would be the second major purchase with the funds raised from my crowdfunding (the first purchase had been insureance, tricky if you are racing as it’s seen as a high risk activity) and it represents the most fundamental of my training requirements: access to the pistes.  For the next sixty days I would make those pistes my second home, others would come and go but each day I would be there, plugging away on my quest. To put the significance of this into context the time I will spend at Hintertux training preseason will total more than the sum of all of of my previous days of skiing. As I approached the head of the queue anticipation gathered. At the kiosk window the woman in front presented her ID. Shit! I checked my pockets. I didn’t have my passport… In this part of the world the buses run at hourly intervals. By the time I waited, went back, waited again and came back more than half the day would be gone. A lesson learned. Still I have limited experience skiing in crowds and despite my commitment I was a little apprehensive. Tomorrow I shall return.

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