All downhill from here...
Finally gets to ride the glamorous Val Gardena downhill tracks he remembers from watching Konrad Bartelski on Ski Sunday
WE’VE all enjoyed the recent Eddie The Eagle movie, remembering how an Englishman took on the world (sort of ) on skis.
But there is another man who lit up British snowsport a few years earlier and, unlike our loveable Eddie, has been largely forgotten.
It is 35 years ago next month that British downhiller Konrad Bartelski stunned skiing by coming second in a World Cup race, just a tenth of a second off top spot.
I can still hear David Vine’s excitable commentary on Ski Sunday as Konrad almost slid across the finish line on his backside after his remarkable run.
Following his triumph, one shocked French CRYSTAL Ski Holidays (crystalski. co.uk; 020 8939 0726) offers a week’s half-board at the three-star Hotel Alpino Plan in Selva Val Gardena in the Italian Dolomites from £523 per person (two sharing). beautifully groomed blessed with great, celebration menu which length. late-season skiing and included consommé with
From 2,249m up the there are effective port, spinach dumplings Ciampinoi peak down to snow-making facilities if with ham in cream sauce, the pretty village of Santa necessary. baked neck and ribs of Cristina, it is a headacheMy daughter, Maddy, pork and pancake with inducing, leg-screaming and I stayed in a familycranberry jam. black run. run hotel at the edge of The place has a big,
All right, I went down Selva, Hotel Alpino Plan, warm boot room – always its sister red run a few which was virtually ski in a bonus as many small times first, but I got to the and out even in March. hotels have ones so tiny big one in the end – But you can catch a free you are falling over though I took rather five-minute bus ride into yourself even before longer than Konrad’s town if you want to pick hitting the slopes. And stunning two minutes and up the cable car before because it is at the head of seven seconds. strapping on your skis. the valley, has great views
The majestic run, in the The three-star hotel was down into Selva. shadow of the brooding simple but immaculate, a The town itself is full of 10,000ft-tall Sassolungo historic building plastered posh boutiques, pretty mountain, is the jewel in with memorabilia by churches, classy Val Gardena’s crown, but owner Luis Demetz of his restaurants and some there are many other many years as a ski lively apres ski bars where smaller gems to enjoy instructor in the resort you can get a warming along the Gardena valley, and welcoming host to bombardino – an which is made up of three both the British and US Italian-style, boozy distinct communities, ski teams when they come eggnog, with a decadent Ortisei (its bowls too low to the valley. swirl of cream on top. for decent Easter skiing), His family now runs the But the best thing about your stay to get different found a place at the top of picturesque Santa place with good humour Val Gardena is that the views and experiences. a mountain which did Cristina, and lively Selva, and bonhomie but the resort is part of the huge The 26-mile tour, which large pizzas for just four The holiday offer sitting up the valley at best aspect of our stay was Dolomiti Superski skipass loops around the Sella euros). includes flights from 1,563m. the terrific food. area, with 750 miles of Massif, is easy to follow Take either the green Manchester to Verona As with most of my It is amazing how easily slopes to explore in one of and there is great skiing route or the higher, more and transfers (price experiences with Italian you can ski off a four or the world’s most beautiful to be had, including difficult orange direction, given is for skiing, queues on the five-course meal and mountain ranges – the varied slopes in my but make sure you are departure in January pistes were practically come back hungry the stunning, jagged favourite resorts of back in time for the last 2017). lift.non-existent,especiallynextnight.Dolomites,aUNESCOCorvara,Colfoscoand midweek, and there is Our meal was a treat, World Heritage Site. Arabba. You can round off your exceptional value for with the waiting staff The easiest way to enjoy One circuit takes about day-long trek, like Maddy money to be found. dressed in typical Ladin an easily accessible part of five hours, depending and I did, heading down
The snow on the costume (they still speak that pass area is to ski the how many times you are the Saslong, almost valley’s slopes was their own language in this circular Sellaronda route. tempted to stop off at the coming a cropper but excellent. This part of Italy part of the Alps) Try both clockwise and good value restaurants ending with that winning – South Tyrol – is usually presenting a five-course anti-clockwise during and bars en route (we feeling – just like Konrad. commentator exclaimed: “It’s not possible, it’s an Englishman.”
As a 14-year-old looking forward to his first school ski trip, Konrad was my hero, and the place where he achieved the highest British placing in any World Cup race became iconic to me – Val Gardena.
Along with the likes of Kitzbuhel, Schladming and Val-d’Isere, the name Val Gardena is synonymous with the glamour, danger and excitement of downhill to a generation of Ski Sunday fans, and on a holiday with Crystal I finally got the chance to follow in Konrad’s ski tracks.
Even on a late season break, the legendary Saslong World Cup run was open with its full,
Direct flights available from all major UK airports.
Maddy Ogden in front of the Sassolungo mountain, Selva, Val Gardena, Italy