I remember how Matjaž Vrhovnik and I traveled to report the World Championship in 2009. In Garmisch - Partenkirchen, we commentated on the slalom races, which came to an end at around the fourteenth hour and thirtieth minutes. We then hastily slurped down a soup in the press room and off we were on our journey. A journey that took us through Austria and Switzerland. Soon enough, it began to snow and although we both love snowflakes, they actually made the task a little harder for our old Toyota. We drove for almost twelve hours. And if my memory serves me well, I was always behind the wheel, for I couldn’t catch a minute’s sleep. I kept a vigilant eye on the slippery road surface, followed other vehicles, at times battling with bands of fog and counting the miles left to our destination, deep in the heart of the Savoy Alps.
I love traveling with Matjaž. Through our cooperation, we have woven a solid friendship, which goes now beyond the usual levels of business and courtesy. Our acquaintance back in 2004 began quite timidly as we were still figuring each other out. Five years later, we were on our way to our third World Cup together and acted like an old married couple. In France we took along on our trip some readymade meals and cans that we heated up in our apartment, saving ourselves a few Euros in the process. Food prices in Val d’Isère are indeed several times higher than those we are used to in our grocery stores.
Our discussions in the car were pretty relaxed, even though we struggled to stick to the ski topic. As it was, we often also switched to regular everyday topics. Hours go by so quickly.As we started off on our journey from Geneva towards the south, the snow abated and I could now press a tad more on the gas. I must say that I’m not afraid to set the speed radar detector, since the registration plate on Slovenian RTV business car were very dirty anyway, as well as snowed and iced up. Although I got flashed once, I never actually received the penalty.
As we arrived in Albertville we knew that much of the road was already behind us. The only thing that was left for us to do was to reach 1850 from where Val d’Isere dominates the surrounding peaks. I was thinking about this road trip the previous Sunday on my way home from work. Earlier that day, the Austrian Marcel Hirscher won his first slalom race in a World Cup. On that same day, I commentated in the national TV’s studios in Ljubljana and then wandered home. Taking a walk after commentating always reinvigorates me. I get to sort my thoughts together, clear my mind, and I actually exercise.
This Championship has not been one that I have reported with pleasure. First we mostly had bad weather, then, the race schedule was constantly altered and the temperatures were extremely low. But what will, above all, remain in my memory is when I first stepped at the foot of the Bellevarde track. I had never seen such high and steep walls at any of the previous championships.
On top of it all, the organisers had put a large amount of water into the snow, a technique used to give the ice plates some semblance of ominous glittering through a blend of scarce sun rays and artificial lights.
It just happened that there is a particular type of terrain apt for all, and not only the favourites. There are skiers, who, because of their special techniques, are more adapted than others to a steeper type of slopes.
Marcel Hirscher was 19 years old then. In the giant slalom, he ended up fourth and only just missed the medals. Two years later, the doubt was cast away. Bellevarde now belongs to him.
Original text by Urban Lavrenčič translated from the Slovene by Christian Ngalikpima.