Friday, January 14, 2005 - Perspective
World Universiade Update: Austrians are Interesting

- By: Shayla Swanson

Austrians are interesting people. The young ones are tobaganing, the middle age are sunning themeselves on patios open in the winter and the elderly are showing everyone else what it means to be fit. The good weather is in part what makes this abundance of activity possible, but I can’t help but think that North Americans could learn a lot from these people. The excitement that surrounds these outdoor activites is pretty incredible. The people of Seefeld are sport fanatics and are currently hosting a Nordic Combined World Cup and the Masters European Indoor Tennis Championships, to be followed by the World Universiade. I met a Norwegian fellow today who was competing in the tennis champs, and true to Norwegian form, he had time for a ski in the morning.

Now back to the weather. “the sun is shining, the weather is sweet. Makes you want to move your dancing feet”. Mr. Marley said it very well. To my fellow Albertans who are currently weathering a deep freeze, don’t worry, your dancing feet will return with the sun!! The mild temperature here in Seefeld has made for some awesome skiing, with one exception, ROCKS. There are kilometers upon kilometers of fantastic skiing, but currently a large percentage of the trails loosely resemble a gravel road. My beautiful ski bases have been subject to a new type of stone grind!!

The 2005 World Universiade are set to kick off on the 12th with the opening ceremonies. I have been informed that with over a thousand athletes from 50ish countries, the University games are the second largest multi sport games next to the olympics. And Team Canada is treating it as such. Currently we have round the clock access to physio and massage…quite a nice bonus! Canadians are competing in all sports except speed skating and figure skating due to a conflict with national championships. In the past those two sports have been responsible for a large percentage of the medal count, so this year might suffer slightly. Our media guy informed us that Canadian aren`t usually sought after for interviews with the exception of hockey players. We all laughed acknowledging that the fact is probably true, but anything is possible!! We have been set up in a hotel with all the amenities, including a bathing suit optional pool! In the morning we are served the breakfast feast of all feasts at the hotel, but luch and dinner are served in the dining hall for the athletes. I think that everyone would agree that eating 3 breakfasts would be preferred to what has been served in the cafeteria thus far. The fat content of our meals would seriously rival that of a Big Mac combo, but surprisingly you don’t see any obese Austrians. Perhaps these folks know something we don’t? (refer to the first paragraph). Other countries such as Ukraine, China and Australia are rolling in and the excitement is building. I’ve been scoping out my next “friend” and looking for clothes worth trading for! So far, friend count: 2 – Bernie, Austrian Nordic Combined World cup skier, and Nick- Australian x-c skier.

I hope that all is well at home, wherever that may be, and that 2005 has started off with a bang! Race Results will be available at www.universiade-innsbruck.org. Hopefully there will be something exciting to look at… I’ll try my best!!

Signing off for now,
Shayla on Skis... or currently Shayla on Sunbathing chair!


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