Sunday, 9 January 2011
There and back again
Snow nuts on skies and boards
Showing off for all their friends
Winter sports at altitude,
Acrobatic leaps and bends.
And then the day ends.
With what result?
They had their winter fun
Under a winter blazing sun
Sliding on winter snow.
I’m missing it already! Yes, here I am, back for a New Year, back from a spot of truly exhilarating skiing in the Austrian resort of Sankt Anton am Arlberg. I’ve met all sorts on my various skiing trips but there are no allsorts like the Anton Allsorts, ski bums one and all! Sorry, I mean a really great crowd of enthusiasts in a place to be enthusiastic about. It’s not better than Val-d'Isère, where I was last year, just different, more demanding in some parts, less demanding in others.
For those of you in the know I would say that Saint Anton’s off-piste is among the best I have had, with some superb powder runs (do hire a guide, though). The place is also incomparable for mogul skiing. There are some reasonably easy bunny runs for beginners – far too busy- but in general this is a place best enjoyed by those at a more advanced level, with some good blue runs.
Combining the whole area of Arlberg, including St Anton, Lech, Zurs, St Christoph and St Jakob there are more miles of ground than one could ever manage in a week or several! It you are really serious go for the Tanzboden and the Kapall, the best powder experience I have ever had. I also tried a spot of night skiing, another first for me.
I have to say as a general rule that there is something really crazy about the skiing crowd, something that gets crazier every time I immerse myself among them. The après-ski in St Anton is not so much relaxation as organised insanity. All I have say here is Mooserwirt and Krazy Kangruh. If you have been you will know exactly what I mean! If you ever go you simply must drop in for a beer or two. Be advised, though, that they are both on-piste, so there is a short run back to town, perhaps not best covered in an inebriate state! I did enjoy both places – the atmosphere was pulsing – but I really preferred Bar Cuba, the place where we saw in 2011.
During the day I tended to keep my eating fairly light, nothing more complicated than gulaschesuppe. Evening, really, was the time for some serious dining and there were lots of good places to go, places serving traditional Austrian and German food. If you like sausages Saint Anton is sure to delight you, particularly those served in the Sporthotel, along with kartoffeln and sauerkraut. For a slightly more refined dining experience I thought the food served in St Antoner Hof was truly excellent. I should also give a mention to the Farnerstube, great for local Tyrolean cuisine.
As always I made some lovely new friends, mostly Americans (it’s always Americans!) as well as some really sweet Swedish guys (I now have a firm invitation to visit Stockholm!). New Year was mad, madder, if possible, than last year in Val-d'Isère, with fireworks thrown freely in the streets, falling at my feet. Thereafter it was a Bar Cuba for a heavy night of excess and delight – I honestly can’t remember when, or if, I got out of bed the following day. With what result? WHO CARES! I had my winter fun, loving in the winter sun, feeling more alive than ever, feeling that powder blow into my face. Bliss is it in this dawn to be alive but to be young – and a skier – is very heaven. Happy New Year!