Snowboardcross World Cup: Telluride Goes International

Catching Air During the World Cup in Telluride

Catching Air During the World Cup in Telluride

It was quite the scene here last weekend.  Actually the excitement grew over a two-week period which culminated with the Snowboardcross World Cup Finals at the Telluride Ski Resort last Sunday.  It was the first World Cup event to take place here and it certainly won’t be the last.  Aside from sailing over the course on the chairlift one afternoon early on, I didn’t see any of the events.  But I did breathe in the international flavor at a number of venues around town.  There’s nothing like that foreign flair and best of all, I learned that our international visitors were totally enchanted by everything Telluride has to offer.

Our stunning mountain resort does welcome a certain amount of foreign visitors during the winter and summer seasons but for this World Cup snowboard event, they camein throngs in the form of athletes, coaches, press, fans and more.  My first introduction to their descent onto to T-ride came early last week when my hunny, Steve, and I dined at The Peaks. Here their Great Room was loaded with young and fit athletes, clearly having a good time laughing, singing and drinking (although not too much beer swilling we remarked).  It was a glorious fashion parade since most were still wearing their team jackets and hats—yes, indoors as is the case at most après ski gatherings. Brands such as Fila and Colmar reigned supreme, with “the wet look” in jackets turning heads the most.  Steve and I agreed that the Italians won the prize for the best turned out team of them all.

The official kick off party of the World Cup came a couple of nights later at The Peaks, recently re-opened under new management as a Grand Heritage Resort & Spa. Half the town of Telluride showed up for that bash which turned out to be the “it” party of the season.

Still, I felt like I was missing out on something since I wasn’t able to attend any of the competitions.  So when I heard that the French team was staying right across the ski run from me at Mountain Lodge (which Steve also happens to manage), I wrangled a chat with some of the leading snowboard dudes just before they headed out for their race on Sunday.  My biggest dilemma was what to wear.  Suddenly my ski clothing seemed old and tired compared to what these world-class competitors were donning on and off the slopes. Fortunately I had picked up a new Eisbaer ski hat at Alpen Schatz, a Telluride boutique and online emporium of alpine treasures.  (Visit my Shopping Page to find out about the special discount you can receive from Alpen Schatz).  Eisbaer is the official hat of the Austrian ski team from what I observed at this World Cup event, the must-have accessory off the slopes.  (Everyone, of course, wears helmets while competing.)  My friend Mary Dawn, owner of Alpen Schatz, reassured me that I would be tops in this, especially since it’s such a hard-to-find item outside of Europe.

Eisbaer Hats:  All the Rage

Eisbaer Hats: All the Rage

The guys met me in jeans and T-shirts and seemed totally unimpressed with my hat. (Wouldn’t you know? Although I did run into some other athletes at the lodge that were also wearing Eisbaer and I could have sworn they gave me a nod.)  I was disappointed to learn that the French team did not have a particular sponsor that outfitted them à la Yves Saint Laurent when he dressed the Air France flight attendants.  “On est standard, rien d’éxtravagant,” they informed me practically in unison. Yet I did learn that their achievements—including numerous World Cup and Olympic victories—were nothing less than extraordinary.

We enjoyed chatting in French celebrating Franco-American relations for a brief moment within the cozy confines of Mountain Lodge.  I learned that they all thought Telluride was magnificent, “une très belle station,” and that the course was superb. As for Mountain Village, they found it to have a very European feel with its big old stones, more modern renditions of traditional ski lodges and concentrated configuration of buildings in the village core.  The town of Telluride was praised for its “esprit Far West” and they spoke just as glowingly about the American welcome they encountered here.  Polo de Lerve, bronze medal winner in the last Olympics, beamed when I asked about their impressions of American food.  He gave me a big thumbs up for La Coçina de Luz, a local’s favorite, and Rustico.  His friends, Pierre Vaultier and Vincent Valery, joked that Polo is the Gault & Milau of the World Cup.

Zee Snowboarders and Me (in Eisbaer!) in Front of the Mountain Lodge

Zee Snowboarders and Me (in Eisbaer!) in Front of the Mountain Lodge Telluride

So I guess Telluride is making its mark on the world map.  When asked if there was anything else that struck them about the area, they marveled about our natural beauty and most especially how trees grow at such a high elevation here—decidedly quite unlike the Alps.  They’ll be back, they promised.

I couldn’t help but wonder if next time they might be outfitted in le dernier cri des pistes, or the latest fashion of the slopes.  The French do have an image to uphold, don’t you think?

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