Upon the conclusion of Youth/Junior World Biathlon Championships in Romania, another youth biathlete, Amanda Kautzer, and myself were privileged to continue our European adventure in the Italian Alps. We made ourselves at home in an apartment tucked in the shadow of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen.
The town where we stayed, Antholz-Anterselva, is a municipality in South Tyrol. South Tyrol, one of the most northerly regions in Italy, borders Austria. Before World War II, it was actually a part of Austria. Because of this, about 98% of the population speaks German rather than Italian. As a member of the European Union, Italy functions on the Euro. One Euro is equal to about one American dollar and 10 cents.
In Antholz-Anterselva, one narrow road leads through three small villages eventually ending at the main ski venue 2000m above sea level. We stayed in the lowest village, at approximately 1200m and made a 15 minute commute to the venue every day. Our village mostly consisted of apartments, hotels, and grocery stores, so there weren’t many options for us to immerse ourselves in the community. One observation we made, however, was that all stores closed during the day between 12PM and 3PM and all day on Sunday. From speaking with a friend, we also found out that children in school get a one hour break in the middle of the day for lunch and relaxation purposes.
The Antholz-Anterzelva Ski Stadium is deeply rooted in the biathlon culture. Antholz has hosted biathlon World Cup or World Championship events nearly every year since the mid-1980s. The altitude and prestige of this venue makes it a great option for professionals to complete a training block in preparation for important competitions. Since the senior World Biathlon Championships in Oslo, Norway are coming up next month, many of the best professional athletes in the world were training there for this very reason. Amanda and I practiced on the range everyday next to some members of the Ukrainian, Latvian, Belarusian, Estonian, and Bulgarian national teams.
Through word of mouth, we also found out that the week before we arrived was an annual festival that occurs in this part of Italy every year. It was a festival in celebration of the coming of spring! Supposedly, the locals dress up in costumes, similar to Halloween, and parade around the town with drinks and food. From the way it sounds, it would have been a fun celebration to be a part of.