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GUEST COLUMN: Area hopes to host ski journalists

Sharon Malone Esler

An invitation to join a group of journalists who ski for their annual congress in Trentino, Italy seemed too good an offer to turn down.

This elite group, the Ski Club International des Journalistes, contacted me because the group is hoping Truckee-Tahoe will host their 48th annual congress in spring 2002.

To gain a better understanding of what the group is about and what Tahoe may gain by hosting them, I decided to go along and ski for six days in the Italian Dolomites.

My trip began with air travel as a guest of Alitalia airlines in their magnifica class. This two-class airline offers a combined first class and business class service that rivals the better-recognized airlines in the U.S. Alitalia, not to be outdone by competing international airlines, inaugurated direct service from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Milan early last summer.

My Italian experience began with an invitation to visit Alitalia’s private lounge near the boarding gates at San Francisco International Airport. On board, I settled comfortably into a reclining leather seat and was offered a glass of sparkling Italian wine.

After a restful night sleep, I hooked up with some of my soon-to-be new best friends upon arrival in Milan. There were about a dozen of us waiting to be transferred to Trentino by bus. The group included journalists from Ireland, Holland, Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel. We purchased several bottles of wine -a theme that pervaded the entire journey – and were on our way.

Five hours later we arrived at the congress headquarters in Hotel Shandrani, one of the three hotels hosting the group for the week. The welcome dinner was underway when we arrived and we were warmly welcomed by all.

I learned very quickly that I was a special addition as 200 journalists quizzed and questioned me about the Tahoe destination and the town called Truckee that I hailed from. By the end of the week I had given out 200 Town of Truckee pins, met everyone and become fast friends with 60 or more.

Like Tahoe, the Val de Fiemme offers a variety of ski resorts within the one valley and all offer different skiing experiences. Mid-week the group participated in a ski trek through the Serra Ronda, a famous Italian trek through ski resorts and mountain villages. The pace was furious, but the trek was scenic beyond description.

Lunch every day was hosted by the mountain huttes. Typical fare consisted of pasta (what else), hot goulash or soup, and shaved meat with what they call smelly cheese sliced on top of pickles.

The entire area bore striking similarities to Lake Tahoe. Mountains, forest land and state parks are major attractions and protecting the environment is a priority.

Winter and summer sports abound. The region has produced several winter Olympic stars under the tutelage of institutions like the Military Polizia Ski School.

Like Tahoe, the main industry is tourism. The area received 3.5 million visitors last year.

Hosting this group at Tahoe would be a tremendous opportunity for our area. It would build bridges with European communities with whom we share so much in common.

For more information about helping to bring the group to Truckee-Tahoe, contact me at Sharon@mempr.com

Sharon Malone Esler is a three-year Truckee resident who opened Malone’s Irish Tavern last July.


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