Tales From The Stark Side: Kitzbuehel Lives Up To Hype
My blog guru here at the Star, Spencer, has suggested I write here and there about my experiences over the years. So please consider this the first installment of Tales From The Stark Side …
Spent four years spent covering Canada’s Olympic athletes overseas in the ‘80s and there was never really another event that matched the Hahnenkamm Downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria. That was on and off the Streif course.
There are the awful crashes through the years that have helped build Kitzbuehel’s reputation. This year, it was Swiss skier Daniel Albrecht, who is in a medically induced coma after suffering head and lung injuries from a crash in training for tomorrow's race. (See it live on cbc.ca/sports at 5:15 a.m.)
My wife, also a journalist, and I travelled on the World Cup circuit together. We were there when Todd Brooker had his horrific head-over-heels crash that ended his career in 1987. She was standing at the bottom of the hill next to Brooker’s wife, Lisa, who was convinced she’d just become a widow.
But Brooker, now an analyst for CBC (and a very fine one at that), survived that crash – and with his sense of humor intact.
When he saw Lisa, he said through bloodied and swollen lips:
“Is my nose as big as your father’s?”
Just as infamous as the race is the party that follows at the Londoner Pub, where skiers take over behind the bar and let loose as only those who’ve confronted some of their greatest fears and survived can. The owners provide a huge cache of free champagne – a tradition started when the Crazy Canucks began winning the Hahnenkamm – and most of it is sprayed all over the place. Ditto for the beer, actually.
One year an American skier blew out his knee jumping off the bar.
Indeed, a dangerous place on and off the course. I've been warned off telling my own personal experience of that with the Londoner.