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Viva Italia! Part 1.
By:  Colin Abbott   (2009/08/05)

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Well, I'm back. Actually, I've been back in Whitehorse for a week, but have just gotten around to writing an article on my trip to Italy†for the Junior World Orienteering Championships now. I decided that there's too much that happened in the three weeks I was there to cram it into one article, so I'll write three, one for each week of the trip.

The trip started on June 30th, with Lee Hawkings and myself flying for 15 hours from Whitehorse to Anchorage to Frankfurt to Venice. After being forced to clear†customs†in Anchorage†(even though we weren't allowed to leave a holding room slightly larger than a typical gymnasium),†dashing through Frankfurt Airport,†falling asleep, waking up to†find our gate changed, getting†on the plane and falling asleep again, we made it to Venice. By chance, we ran into Randy Kemp, our team leader/coach at the first place we stopped, a Gelato store on the main island. He'd already been up and down Venice, so he pointed out the choice places to see in the three hours or so we had there. While it was a bit of a rushed visit, we were treated to a symphony orchestra serenading thousands on the street, gondoliers singing as they meandered down the canals, endless cobbled streets so narrow and deep you could barely see the sun, and the best gelato I have ever tasted!

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Gondolier.

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Piazza di San Marco, tourist hub of Venice.

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Rooftops of Venice from the tallest tower in town.

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Me in front of the Basilica.

After doing the tourist thing in Venice, Lee and I met up with the rest of the Canadian team and headed into the mountains by bus. The nauseating mountain roads, combined with jet lag, too much sun and a massive buffet dinner did me no favours on the drive up to the house we rented. We arrived in the middle of the night, stomachs intact, and crashed for the night.

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The view I woke up to every day.

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The Canadian JWOC team 2009. From left to right, front row first then back row, are: Graeme Rennie, Colin Abbott, Emily Kemp, Eric Kemp, Lee Hawkings, Graham Ereaux, Damian Konotopetz, Jeff Teutch and Angela Forseilles

There was no rest for the wicked, and seeing as I had arrived later than most of the Canadian team, the training camp was in full swing by the time I got there. With four days of training before the races, we had to fit as much time as possible on the available maps to even have a hope of competing with the rest of the world. The lead up to the races was good for me. I stayed healthy, recovered quick from travel and got used to the hilly, technical Italian terrain in a few days. On our sole rest day, we took a tram car up to 2600m on the side of a mountain and climbed the rest of the way to the top. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Needless to say, the dolomites are spectacular.

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Our daily commute to town/training sessions.

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One of two roller-skiers we saw during the trip. See above picture for an idea of what every single road is like.

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Off the edge of Mount Rosetta, 2750m elevation.

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Lee and Angela, keeping a not-so-safe distance from the edge.

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Note the hiking trail in the middle of the image.

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San Martino di Castrozza, the "Whistler" of the Dolomites. (for the cycling buffs out there, a stage in the Giro d'Italia ended here this year).

A great week of training was wrapped up with the opening ceremonies in downtown Primiero. For a small town, the Italians went all out on the ceremony, with horses trotting in front of us, a full marching band behind them, polka players, dancers, a local celebrity singer, a choir, and a trio of clowns all the way from New York City. We moved into our accomodation for the week of racing shortly after, and started to get mentally prepared for the tough 5 races to come.

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Canadian team with our flag bearer at the opening ceremonies.

Stay tuned! there's more to come.

 
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