On the the scene in BormioBORMIO The 2005 World championships are limping mid week without the verve expected at a world class event. In fact it has been tedious in Bormio since Sunday evening.
Much of the difficulty lies with the FIS scheduling of the Championships. The opening races did not inspire much enthusiasm even with the current skiing icon, Bode Miller, capturing gold in the men’s Super G. The chairs in Bormio’s new 3,500 seat stadium were scarcely tested as only an estimated 1,000 spectators climbed four floors to watch.
The Women’s race Sunday generated a better crowd with several fan clubs showing up to fill a far smaller Santa Caterina Stadium. Despite the fact that the result was good for the USA with Julia Mancuso grabbing bronze, the race itself was odd. As the nine best ranked Super G skier’s skied out or made implausible mistakes it took much of the steam out of the race.
Credit FIS scheduling which seemingly was aimed at helping the organizers in case of weather for draining any mid week gusto. Three days of back to back downhill training may provide a weather window, but it did nothing for fans. And by Wednesday afternoon, after high winds blustered away two women’s training runs and reduced men’s start down to the combined level, interest in the games has waned notably.
Through out the narrow cobbled streets Bormio, which is an ancient medieval town dating back to the Roman Empire; there is little sign of festivities. Sure, there are parties for the VIP’s, but the lanes are not filled with the usual revelers or bell clanging fan clubs. Unhappily for the organizers there is no snow to provide visual aesthetics or good recreational skiing. Shop windows scarcely note the games. There are almost no Bormio 2005 souvenirs around save in one specialty store which features sweatshirts and baseball caps.
Finally the FIS, in its marketing wisdom (suggested by some to be an oxymoron), decided to postpone the customary post race awards ceremony for the combined events, further denigrating an event the international governing body has tried to breath life into over the past two years. So the men’s and women’s combined medal ceremony will precede the men’s downhill awards Saturday, leaving nothing of note happening for five consecutive evenings. And the combined’s are once more being relegated to a third rate competition with not enough respect to have their own medal ceremony.
The FIS has no satisfactory explanation of their thinking leaving one to surmise that a medal ceremony after the early evening second run of slalom might conflict with their post race partying.
Oh well, there is a bright side. The food here is some of the best in the world. And the wine can be nectar. Besides, some of the world’s best athletes will be tearing up the downhills and slalom tracks for the next two days. The FIS has seen to it that medals for the combined will be anticlimactic, but there are always bragging rights. - G.B. Jr.