Downhill assignment

It’s the furthest, highest and coldest assignment yet! Furthest within Germany that is, but it’s definitely the coldest and highest.
As I type, I’m speeding toward a host of international women – fitting for the day that’s in it – to watch them compete this weekend at a World Cup alpine skiing event in the resort of Ofterschwang.
Ofterschwang is way up in the Bavarian Alps, so I’d to get a train to Sonthofen, Germany’s southernmost town, and I hope there’s a bus from there. At least I know I’m on the right train – it says ICE on the side.
There are no mountains worth talking about in Ireland, and the rain keeps the snow away, so my knowledge of skiing is limited to knowing there’s always loads of booze and wild parties afterward. Going on the piste is just a couple of letters from going on the piss, altogether a more Irish pastime.
But I’ve been reading up and I know a little more now than I did before. Tina Maze from Slovenia is the big star this year apparently. She’s won the overall World Cup title already, set a points record, and the only thing left for her to do is see if she can win in all five disciples – slalom, super-G, downhill, giant slalom and super-combined.
Don’t ask me what any of them mean. They all involve flying down mountains as quickly as possibly and walloping sticks in the snow with a ski-pole on the way. There’s a slalom and a giant slalom on this weekend. I presume one is bigger than the other…
Anyway, “Amazing” Tina has more or less got three wrapped up, is all but assured of the downhill trophy on account of Lindsey Vonn’s banjaxed knee, and is challenging another American, Julia Mancuso for the super-G title.
The local favorite is Maria Hoefl-Riesch, but she’s way behind Maze in the overall title race. There are others too of course, but readers of this thing are even less likely to have heard of them than I am.
I’m looking forward to it – especially the booze and wild parties – but not the cold. I’ve brought 2½ pairs of gloves (two fingerful, one fingerless), my wooly hat, but couldn’t find my long-johns when I was packing in a hurry this morning.
I was going to do a Zeppelin flight on Monday, but found out this morning I’m five days too early for flying season! Bad luck. Jenny gave me the voucher almost five years ago but I never used it because Friedrichshafen is as easy to get to from Berlin as the North Pole is. Friedrichshafen is “only” 2½ hours from Ofterschwang
Still, I’m sure the alpine skiing will provide enough highs for the weekend. It’s all downhill from there.


  1. Oi! You're forgetting the Dublin 'mountains', the Wicklow 'mountains' etc, etc- climbable hills! Rough and ready - ok - not extreme like The Highlands - but great nevertheless. The near sound-of-music-scape just doesn't cut the mustard, depending on which way your pendulum swings - unless you're skiing. Off piste. Bayern can be a bit strange, otherwise. Prost.

  2. No I didn't forget the Wicklow mountains - they're great and I've had many a good stomp up there. Many a good stomp, it was my old stomping ground. The Alps are in another league though. I mean, I never heard of anyone taking a spin up the Alps to get rid of a hangover...

  3. Exactly - reaching The Alps' summits is a tad on the difficult side. That said, the region's landscape is beyond breathtaking.


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