In the spirit of being emerged in all things Austrian, in February we celebrated Fasching, or Carnival, where everyone dressed up in all things imaginative. There was plenty of retro ski gear to go around, cleaning staff, celebrities, and the foolproof – dressing up as each other.
Competition was hot off the hill as well as on, with a friendly Curling tournament taking place. With varying levels of skill, we flung the rocks along the ice, trying to score victory against one an other. This time working together to catch a murderer, we played a World War 2 themed murder mystery night where adultery, scandal and suspicion called for probing questions, accusations and lots of wine! The dress ups were full commitment spectacles. -Micheala made her own monicle!
In the name of speed, around 15 of us headed to Kössen for snow tubing. The rope tow contraption collected each of us with our tube and brought us to the top of the runs. To the right, a speedy dash down, to the left, a bumpy, bobsleigh like course which flung its victims up the sides and spat them out the bottom. It was also great fun to check out the local climbing and bouldering halls, to test out new muscles after work.
A culinary highlight of the season was the opportunity to indulge in CHEESE! Raclette makers at the ready and cheese en masse, we cooked up our own portions of cheese covered everything and then washed it down with a Feuerzangerbowle which consisted of alcohol and fire. Another treat was a pasta making evening, taught by our very own Italian, Cate. She assembled our work stations and talked us through the simple but very precise process of crafting our own pasta, being patient while it rose, and rolling it out!
I was visited by David and Krystina and we set about exploring a few of the resorts in the local area. There was a section off piste heaven at St Jakob, to which a lengthy, dreamy powder run was learnt by two long and tricky T bars. During his long weekend visit we had a chance to be part of a rescue dog training day. On the Kitzbüheler Horn, we skied all morning to leave our scent on the ski hill. By the afternoon, they called the dogs on us as we hid on mountain and waited for them to come and alert of our presence. It was more low key than it sounds, in fact they sniffed around pretty nonchalant, rather than the bounding alert I was expecting, but it was cool to see the variety of dogs trained for such important work. Of course, he had an introduction into Kirchdorf’s apres ski as we danced bars, and he modelled the Dirty Dancing lift scene very eloquently. My friend Toby also managed to find the hidey hole in the mountains and spend a long weekend exploring the area. He was subjected to schnapps, ski shows and on mountain Glühwein stops.
The big date in the diary of the season was Pub to Pub, a series of challenges and mischiefs strung together on skis, all done in fancy dress. There was the raunchy; a flasher, the traditional; lederhosen clad and the wacky; old ladies learning to ski. Michaela, Ollie and I were Rock, Paper and Scissors, in that order, and with Josh as Captain Jack Sparrow, we were unstoppable in taking victory. The challenges included an on ski singing conga line, a short turns challenge, a toboggan race, and a no-hands-pop-the-balloon relay. Some Ollie related highlights included a 20 minute two man chair lift ride in which he had forgotten he needed the toilet before he got on and spent the whole journey trying not to laugh, the fact his costume broke before the first run and had to be heavily subsidised with duck tape, and him trying to find his elbows in a fast paced game of grab the cone.
This epic day out was followed by the last- and a slightly more subdued- apres ski of the season, which was held at the Panorama Bar at the top of the ski hill in the sunshine. For the last run in KiT for the year, we used the sit skis to maneuver our way home after dark.
Ready for a snowy spring, I got a new pair of skis. My shiny new skis arrived just in time for a last weeks rip around the mountains. It was funny getting used to a new style of ski, and for the first few laps I think they skied me! In, unbeknown to me, my last week in Austria, Corona seemed to be something that the Italian neighbours we suffering with, but the situation in Austria changed quickly and highlighted to me the oncoming changes that very soon after, every country would embrace. On Thursday it was announced that schools wouldn’t open from Monday and that Hotels would be closed. Czech shut its borders. On Friday they announced all ski resorts would shut from Sunday and we all made plans to slip across the border after our last few turns of the winter. We spent the days making the most of the quiet resorts, skiing in formation down empty pistes and skiing every lift at Steinplatte on the last day of freedom. When Sunday came it was apparent that there would be a lockdown and no-one would be allowed out of their houses. Only supermarkets and pharmacies would open, and the borders would shut at 8am Monday. 6 of us packed up very quickly, and by the evening were on route to the train station. Once at the train station it still wasn’t very clear how easy it would be to get to Germany, with many trains cancelled. A short journey to Munich was now accomplished, with great relief, in four parts. Now the big decision, what happens next?