Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dinner with Courtney

I'm not sure what about this trip is sending me in the direction of the U.S. Luge Team, but last night I met and had dinner with Courtney Zablocki who placed fourth in the women's single event held on Valentine's day.
It was complete happenstance. I walked into a crowded restaurant on the main street of Sestriere to find two of Courtney's friends eating dinner. I had met them the first night I arrived in Sestriere and since I was alone they asked me to join them. When I saw them last night they invited me to sit down again and said Courtney was on her way, too. I felt like I was imposing, but they were sincere and insisted I sit. So I did.
I enjoyed learning a bit about luge, or sliding, as they say. I had tons of questions about it, since I know next to nothing about the sport. Most surprising was that she said the Austrian team is the most fun to hang around. She said they are relaxed, funny even. The news hit me as the Austrian skiers are anything but relaxed and funny. They are the most uptight team on the World Cup. Turns out the German's are luge's OSV equivalent.
Courtney also said the luge track here is not as difficult as people are making it out to be. There has been a lot of press about that lately, and several athletes have been sent to the hospital after bad crashes. She said the problem is training on the track was cut in half compared to normal races. When athletes are asked to race full gas on a track they aren't completely comfortable on accidents are bound to happen, and she could think of at least three tracks on the World Cup that are more difficult than the one here in Torino.
She also confirmed reports that the food in the athlete village is horrible. Her team got up early one morning for breakfast and found dinner still sitting out, the pasta's overcooked and they serve croissants wrapped in plastic in the morning. Such a shame as here we are in Italy of all places where the food is typically terrific. Check out next week's print version to learn more about the region's food.


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