Tuesday, February 14th
Valentine's Day. No Alpine events yesterday, but the girls kicked ass in the halfpipe, further underscoring U.S. snowboarding dominance. After Shaun White and Danny Kass took gold and silver in the men's event on Sunday, expectations were high for the ladies. With returning champion Kelly Clark, teen upstart Hannah Teter, and veteran Gretchen Bleiler (all of 26 years old) on the team roster, there was a more than compelling case for a clean sweep by Team USA. But it wasn't to be, as Clark took a fall on a 900-degree aerial attempt at the end of her second run and got bumped off the podium by Norway's Kjersti Buaas.
Back in Turin, the hunt for tickets continued. There were a couple of makeshift scalper offices that had sprouted up in the shops around the Medals Plaza, boosted by American salesmen and an army of the best field agents in the game, all on working "holiday" from the States. One fight even broke out in the RazorGator office, as two of the scalpers vied for the distinction of "best in the world." I think it was Fat Tony from Atlanta who won, but I can't be sure.
Tickets are available for everything, if you're willing to pay the price. I saw figure-skating tix go for 450 Euros, but other events are surprisingly close to face-value. The most frustrating thing is the huge blocks of corporate tickets and sponsor/VIP seats that either go unused or that people bring in to the scalpers' offices to sell or trade. And the agents in the official ticket sales outlets are typically Italian; one salesperson with 100 people in line. If I hear "dispiace, but the computers are down" again I may lose it. Incredibly inefficient. But I did find out that you can buy tickets in every San Paolo bank, which has somewhat reliable computers.
I may just stick with the scalpers. But they don't have many of the mountain events covered down in Turin, so the best bet is to go back up to Sestriere to score some tickets for the Men's Combined and the Women's DH.
So last night after scrambling for more ski tickets, we found a Slow Food restaurant off Via Garibaldi called Taverna dei Giutti. "Slow Food" was a concept hatched here in Piedmont, and is an association of restaurants that have an esteemed following and very strict code of quality. This place didn't disappoint, as we had a "Degustazione Menu" for 22 Euros each and a 19-Euro Nebbiolo wine. The chef and two servers ran the place by themselves and kept us occupied with outrageous dishes like a soft-boiled egg en croute with a black truffle sauce, and an incredible gnocchi naturale. If it weren't for the Grappa Miele (with honey) to break it all down, I would have rolled out of there.
We walked dinner off with a stroll down the Via Po and strolled along the river, which usually tees off every night with dozens of nightclubs. I guess Mondays are the same for the clubs as with the museumschiuso. Oh well, everyone needs a day off.
At the moment I am back in Sestriere, having scored a pair of tickets to the Combined an hour before the Downhill portion. Actually, my girl got them for us as a Valentine's present, which is a now tradition now after I did the same for her in Salt Lake in 2002. More on how things shake out in this event tomorrow...