Tales From a Land Far Away

By Tanner Visnick

When I heard that I had the opportunity to go Spain to race in the World Cup, I was ecstatic!  Not only would I get to race the best skiers in the world, but I would also get to experience a new culture and look upon places I had never seen before. Trust me, Europe did not disappoint!  As my first time overseas, I didn’t know what to expect. Would it be nice? Does anyone know English? How am I going to get around?  All of these questions popped into my head and my uncle’s.

As I departed the final day, I already felt a special bond to that place. I already look forward to next year’s adventures and what they will bring.  As I boarded the plane to America, I felt sadness and a longing for the season to continue, but also happiness, for I will be back very shortly. Spain will forever have a special place in my heart, the birthplace of my World Cup adventures. reassurance that no one in Barcelona speaks “normal Spanish,” definitely made me a little nervous.  Although I did, on several occasions, make a fool of myself, it was a great experience, one I will not soon forget.

It began with the arrival in Barcelona. There I met my coach and fellow teammates and from there, we headed into the mountains. At first I was a little concerned because there was no snow, and the 70 degree weather left me confused whether or not we were coming here for skiing or hiking.  I was reminded of which when out of nowhere long stripes of white rose out of the hills where I could faintly see the b-netting hung along the sides of the runs. I thought to myself, “I have discovered the true white ribbon of death.” It made me appreciate our somewhat stable weather in Steamboat and what we think of as a low snow year.

Next, we arrived at the hotel and checked in. It was a cute, family run hotel on a narrow cobblestoned street that accommodated most of the athletes for the next few days. On the first floor, there was the dining room where we all ate breakfast and dinner together each day.  The hotel gave us a ridiculous amount of food, consisting of four giant dinner courses that left our bellies stuffed and ready for the next day.

The four days of racing and training almost went by as a blur as my time there felt very short.  Every morning, we would get up bright and early and be at the lifts before sunrise. The warm weather required us to have the races early in order to ski on the best snow possible. Halfway up the mountain, all of us would have lunch together on an outdoor deck viewing the mountain.  It was the perfect setting to enjoy a delicious, well-earned meal. Possibly due to an incidence of yogurt overindulgence, we were limited to only one side item, but they served us two hearty main dishes to keep us satisfied.  After we finished skiing for the day, everybody would tune skis in the parking lot across the street from our hotel. After this was finished, the hours leading up to dinner were typically spent hanging out in the lobby, the only place where we could find internet service. Although I was typically clueless to what was going on, hearing all the different languages spoken was a unique experience. I now have a solid grasp on which cheers to use for which countries! That is another interesting thing…we all cheer each other on!  It is like we are one big family, branching over several continents, brought together by this fantastic sport!