Another great Italian resort we never knew even existed

Pontedilegno-Tonale 2013

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My vision was somewhat blurred when I left
home in Turku at 2 am carrying the ski bag
of two pairs of skis and dragging two suitcases to the bus stop. The fierce wind and -20°C clarified my vision.

After my Helsinki - Frankfurt - Bergamo flights Laura Perna welcomed me, my ski bag and cabin bag, but not the bigger bag with my boots and the rest of my skiing outfit.
After having skied two days in Olof Rytövaara’s too small spare boots that removed two of my toenails I had the happy reunion with my own gear.
Grazier mille, Olof, for the boots, trousers and underwear.

SUNDAY showed us what skiing in Adamello Ski is made of: Sunny, well prepared slopes in both villages, large off-piste areas and several restaurants whenever one felt thirsty or hungry or just wanted to sit down and admire the amazing scenery and the beautiful people.
At 7.30 PM we started our march in our bright red sponsor jackets carrying our flags through cheering masses to the central piazza where the obligatory speeches were said and responding applause was given by us.

MONDAY gave us something we have always wanted:
A GS practice track. The long queue waiting to get to the track proved the need. The early birds did the track several times.
My helmet was still somewhere between Frankfurt and Pontedilegno and I lost best practicing time looking for a rental helmet. Well, whatever, we are only in this for the fun of skiing and fun of international relationships.
The rest of the day was, again, perfect free skiing and getting a nice half-face tan.
After dinner at the hotels those had some energy left from the slopes spent in the All In Disco Club.

TUESDAY, the most important day for some of us, a terrifying day for some and a whatever day for the rest. This or that, the Grand Slalom race always raises the atmosphere and thus even the temperature.
The ladies have a new campion in Anna Geli from Spain. The runner-ups are Emanuela Fontana (ITA) and Nina Fournier (SUI). Rookie in SCIJ, Finnish Kreeta Salmela missed the podium by a second being fourth. Naturally she is our president and captain and whatever she wants from now on. Andrea Mugnaini is, once again, the men's champion and Blaz Mocnik (SLO) and Christophe Ungar (SUI) his Crown Princes.
After the race we hurried to ski the northern side of the valley, because I was supposed to work for a while at the Press Center before the Nation's Evening. Something happened on the last run.

A scary incident
We skied down the Angelo piste and Corno d’Aola. First half of the run was total white darkness and you just had to trust your feet and skis. Inside the forest the visibility improved and we let it go. I was doing narrow turns at the left side on the piste, when somebody came very close to me. I yelled “HEI!” and thought that’s it. On his next left turn he hit me and I flew head first to the net fence and fell to the bottom on the fence behind a snow wall.
Where is the man and the other ski?
Kimmo Sarlin came after me and saw only one ski and two sticks on the piste but no man. Then he found me cramped behind the snow wall, both feet bent under me, the right boot still in the binding and the head of the ski stuck in the net. I couldn’t move myself or reach the binding. I felt something press my chest. Thought it was my stick, but it was a 40 cm long upright iron bar. A bit too close, I’d say.

Kimmo found me, but he has evidently lost journalistic instinct, because he didn't take a picture, but opened my binding, took the ski off and helped me up.
My goggles were broken and my glasses (-6,25 and -4,75) were split in two. Well, what could one do but ski down. Even without glasses I could see better than in the fog. The starting snowfall made me blink all the time, but so what. I was in one piece, only one experience richer.

The great day ended with the Nations’ Evening at the Sports Hall. I missed the party and the whole next day working. Poor Internet connections ruined them for me. I only had a toast at the bar of our hotel.I was told the party was great, once again, but because of the huge hall lacked the bazaar atmosphere of previous Nations’ Evenings. At least, it was not Erhan Karadag's fault.
So what, it’s people who make the party, and the SCIJ members do have the skill.

WEDNESDAY kept me in the Pressroom working on my laptop, changing emails on a PC and moving material on a memo stick between the two, having a quick toast at a bar.
In the afternoon Mario lent me his Web Cube and I could continue my work in my hotel room.
I was ready in time to go to the General Assembly.
Too many of dear old friends had died since the last meeting and the assembly began in rather sad atmosphere.
In the middle of the assembly Mario Sensini announced that we have a new pope from Argentina. I congratulated the Argentineans Adrian and Sergio sitting beside me.
Not for this announcement but for his achievements organizing SCIJ meetings and leading GIS Mario was knighted Honorary Member of SCIJ.
Blaz Mocnik from Slovenia was chosen the new member of the IC when Uros Sostaric retreated after twelve years, and Ramon Vilero renewed his place.
During the free conversation of the assembly Fabricio Dragosei expressed his wish to return to the good old days of cross-country, when skiing was pleasant walking on skis in beautiful nature, and not fierce competition where waxing and mostly pushing with arms made the whole event something else.

THURSDAY, another great, windless and sunny day.
A perfect day for pleasant walk on skis. Was I the only one Fabricio had fooled, when I, after being the second for 2400 m, slowed down and walked pleasantly the last 100 meters to the finish line, letting others pass me pushing fiercely with their arms.
As always, the Dutch pea soup was great and the cheeses and wine were delicious and plentiful.
After the service I put my skis back on and walked pleasantly the whole 2,5 km trail enjoying the scenery, the sunshine and the solitude.

No fireworks this time, and a cramped road train took us to the Sports Hall for the opening dinner with, once again, excellent wines.

Laura Perna welcomed us at the airpot

Members' photos from facebook

Only one ski, no man or woman.

At the races

@ Radu Ionescu

Saved by the Italians, one more time. Three years ago Mario Sensini and his group led us to Abetone and now Adamello Ski, a great ski resorts that we knew nothing about before.

What if we made Mario our permanent dictator to organize our meetings in always new Shangri-Las of skiing.


Also the ever efficient Miguel Aquiso and Roberto Micalli could be the permanent Dynamic Duo of the International Committee until death them do part or if sickness makes them unable to bless our skiing. Only then we - whoever outlives them - would choose new leaders and tell the people of the world about the vote completed by burning one of Gilles de La Rocque’s old skis to fill the air with holy smoke.


So much for future visions. The companies having visionaries as economic decision makers usually end up bankrupt.

The Post Tour

FRIDAY, and we are absoblutebly free! Well, except that Pierre Sormany from Canada had promised to take my captain Kreetta to the off-piste starting from highest lift station at 3000 m, just below Cima Presena. Kreeta did the favour to drag me along, what I hereby thank her for. The Scualdrina Cantiere off-piste is easy and relatively safe because of the variation of steeper and gentler parts. The icy tunnel through the mountain and the 200 meter climb back to the civilized world are the hardest parts.
After the Presena adventure I skied my heart out re-skiing all the pistes once or twice more and the already freezing “off-pistes” of the other side of the valley completing my day on the Corno d’Aola in PdL when the lifts were already closed.
With the only duty, the Grand Gala left, we tuned ourselves with black ties with varying opinions of what it means and gathered, once more in the Sports Hall. Ladies were beautiful and gents were handsome. Spumante and red and white flowed and food was plentiful.
The prises for the best in cross-country and combined were given. Fabricio, the one who prefers to walk pleasantly on his cc skis was third in combined! How he must have suffered not following his own ideal!
To my surprise I was later called to the estrade to receive presents and thanks for my humble actions as the SCIJ Web Master. The laud applause, some people even standing up got me thinking that my fellow little people of SCIJ somehow honoured my achievements. Well, good wine makes people act foolishly.
The last hour of the gala always repeats the first hours of the first day of the week. Lots of abbracci and baci on cheeks, some even on mouth, and see you next year

On SATURDAY most of the others had already left when I woke up, some maybe already at home, when we post tourers woke up, had a peaceful breakfast and climbed to the bus taking us to new adventures on the Post Tour.

After cross country ski: Dutch peasoup, Italian cheese and wine.

Erhan Karadag, an excellent salesman of Turkish wine.

New Honorary Member Mario Sensini announced white smoke having emerged from a certain Vatican chimney.

Fare thee well!

The most waited-for event: Grand Slalom competition.

An invaluable Bugatti in the Mille Miglia Museum.