January 2.—Left Boston on the one-o'clock for New York in order to get to a dinner for the ski team. The usual confusion attending such gatherings prevailed, what with trunks being lost, uniforms given out, Dr. Hildebrand checking up on his team, and so forth.
The uniforms are a strange lot, and quite useless for skiing. Light blue knickerbockers of a cheap gabardine, blue sweat shirts with USA on the front, turtle-neck jerseys, a cap that looks like a New Hampshire farmer's, and a skater's knitted headpiece! We were supplied, however, with very fine U. S. Naval Academy coats (greatcoats) with a small Olympic shield on the breast pocket.
January 11.— Hamburg at 6 P. M. after sailing up the Elbe through an immense amount of shipping. One of the officers said that five hundred ships often cleared or entered in a day!
Reception by the Senate of Hamburg in the Rathaus was very cordial. We were shown the town from a bus in a sleet storm, taken to the Eisbahn, and ended at the Zillertal Beer Hall.
January 12.— Garmisch-Partenkir-chen at 5 P. M., along with a much needed snow. Durrance and Hunter met us at München. They have not had much skiing. About three weeks out of the two months here, I believe.
January I3.— Almost a foot of new snow spruced up the skiing on the lower slopes.
We rode up to the Kreuzeck on the Balm, and thence skied by a trail to the Hochalm. Raced slalom courses in the clouds all afternoon. I felt wretchedly clumsy, as did Alex. But Dick, Ted, and Link looked perfectly wonderful. Had lunch in the Hochaim in the most delightful atmosphere a true German or rather bayerische Hütte, with Kasser Sepp playing the zither and singing impromptu songs about the amerikanische Mannscahft.
Trailed Dick and Ted down the Kochelberg, and practically gave up in wonder at their mastery of the frightful bumps and knolls. Alex and I both felt outclassed.
January 15.— Twice down the Standard with 'Rietsch' pointing out his line. Alex and I were aghast at the mere thought of taking such a course, but it looked better than it might have two days ago.
The Standard is one of three possible runs for the Down Hill Race. The other two are the Neuner and the Krembs. The Neuner is probably going to be the course, but so far it has been closed for practice. It is really part of the Standard—the middle third and a cutoff besides. About a 3300 foot drop in two miles. It takes about five minutes for Birger Ruud—and seven or eight for others. The legs get very tired.
January 16.— Practised the 'fade-away' corner on good snow three or four times. Then ran the Standard, trying to remember the best lines. Lunch at Kreuzeck and then down the Horn. I feel much more at home. There is a trick to mastering these bumps-part of it is knowing where to go, and the other part is taking them relaxed! Try and do it. I have changed to shorter poles -they feel much lighter, easier to swing, and are much less in the way.
January 20.— Standard from the top to the Neuner without stopping. Then practised the gully with Sigmund and Birger Ruud. Those two are amazing in their ability to stand up on inpossible bumps at high speed.
Hunter made a really good 'boner' when Birger came hurtling down from the gully, across the little bridge, and jumped through the air off a bump, landing on his side. Instead of crumpling like an ordinary runner, he bounced back into position and ended in a jump-turn on his feet. As he came sheepishly, back to where we were, Ted, not realizing who he was, said sarcastically to one of the best ski jumpers in the world: 'Ah, Sie sind auch ein Springer?'
January 21.—A very icy Standard with Tony and Al. A funny thing happened as I was resting with Tony at Seelos Gully. One of the numerous Red Cross Guards on the trail came rushing up, attracted by my leg, which I had scraped on the crust. Before I could stop him he unbuckled his kit and started to work with an enormous paintbrush full of iodine and yards of bandage. Then, jotting down almost my entire life history in his little book, he resumed his cold and gruesome duty of waiting for 'crack-ups.'
Lunch in the sun at Kreuzeck, watching with eager eyes a very beautiful French girl. No luck—although Tony did his best in three languages! Twisted my knee slightly coming down.
January 23— Whipped down the Standard three times on eight inches of new powder. Then we packed up for a flying trip to Kitzbühel to race there day after tomorrow.
January 24— Kitzbühel, Austria. A foot of new snow—and more base than at Garmisch—and much better 'gelaende' [see endnote 1].
We desperately ran the Neue Streif four times to get some idea of the course. Slept badly, thank you, in the Reisch Hotel, thinking of to-morrow.
January 25.—Race at 10:45. Up at the Hahnenkamm I found that I was to start No. 1 and Birger Ruud No. 2! He passed me about halfway down the course, when I fell for the nth time!
I was in a blue funk all the way- and skied perfectly miserably. I picked up courage however, after he passed me and trailed after him, but in the last field I misjudged the wood path and fell down below it into the trees, losing a minute in climbing back out again. At the finish I found that Birger had fallen up above, hurting himself, and that I had passed him only to have him pass me again when I fell below the path! Anyway, the whole race was a nightmare of rotten skiing on my part. I took many needless falls and let the racing feeling get me too much. Alex and Tony had the same thing happen to them and had bad luck in falling in bad places. Durrance finished ninth in spite of a costly fall on the 'Steilhang.'
I was twenty-fourth, Page twenty-sixth, Bright twenty-eighth, Crookes twenty-ninth, Lindley thirtieth. Thirty-two were in the race!
The slalom was the longest I have ever seen—and set by Bill Bracken. The girls ran it first and cut it up considerably. Evelyn Pynching won in 1: 89. After thirty-eight girls had run, the men started. Seelos won in 1:13, Kneissl second in 1:18. The rest were in the 1: 3's. Dick did 1: 29 with a six-second fall. I did 1:35 with a fall. Dick was eleventh and I nineteenth. Alex had particularly bad luck. Seelos was miraculously steady and sure in all his turns—even on a rutted, grooved, grass-strewn course. (There was no fixing up of the course at all.)
It was a bad day for the American team, but I think very good medicine.
January 28—Back to Garmisch. Went out bright and early to practise slalom on the Gudiberg, but it was too icy and not much fun. Gave up after a few abortive attempts and sat in the Ski Stadium Restaurant drinking 'ski-wasser' [see endnote 2] in the sun. After lunch we all hurried to the Hochalm with the idea of a practice race. Climbed rather late in the afternoon to Osterfeldkopf on skins. It was cold and clear, the Alpspitze very imposing in deep shadow, and untracked powder snow everywhere. We were so exhilarated by the weather and the powder that we all whisked down and forgot about the race. I think this is the first time I have been on a real open slope in Europe—one could turn at very high speed by wishing! It was more like flying, or rather floating, than anything else I can describe.