Markus' Travel and International Living Blog

Markus is an enthusiastic traveler, who lives in Houston, TX (USA) most of the time, but also spends some time in Saalfelden, near Salzburg (Austria). He is fascinated by travel and also by his experiences gathered by living in two different countries and continents.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006
Ice Speedway World Championship Quarter Finals

Last weekend we went to another interesting sporting event, which took place right in my home-town of Saalfelden: The Ice Speedway World Championship Quarter Finals. "What is Ice Speedway?" you ask? Basically, it is motorcycle racing on ice. Sounds crazy, and from a spectator's point of view, I have to say that it is! It is plain unbelievable how fast they race on ice and how extreme they lean into corners. I would have never expected this event to be so spectacular. Here are a few pictures:

The second guy from the left is the local hero from Saalfelden, Franky Zorn ( Here's what it looks like when they go around a turn at full speed:

Keep in mind that this is on ice. It looks a bit like snow here, but it really is ice.

Here a bit more up close:

Here is a picture from Franky's own homepage (check out his site form more information):

It is quite amazing how hard they fight for position and how fast they go. The pictures don't nearly do it justice. We saw a few crashes that looked quite serious, yet they all seemed to walk away.

Franky Zorn is amazingly fast. Unfortunately, he had some problems with his motorcycle, but in the end, he came in second place and qualified easily for the semi finals. He was only beaten by the russian world champion Nikolai Krasnikov. I think if he had a better starting position for the final run, he might have had a chance to challenge him, but Krasnikov was pretty strong that day.

Anyway: This was a bit of a surprise to me. I never really considered watching an Ice Speedway event, but this ended up being amazingly suspenseful and exciting (and you don't get to see the world's best in any sports just every day...). If I can somehow arrange it, I will be back to watch next year's event...


Posted @ 5:20 PM by Egger, Markus ( -
Comments (26)

Sunday, January 22, 2006
A Day of Sports...

OK, watching sports that is. Oh, and this actually was over 2 weeks ago (but I got sick right afterwards, and was extremely busy at the same time, so I didn't get a chance to blog much...).

Anyway: It was Friday the 6th of January and we went to see two major sporting events. The first one was the ski jumping competition in Bischofshofen, Austria. This is the last competition of the world famous four-hills-tournement, the biggest event in the world of ski jumping. And this is really relatively close to Saalfelden, the town I am from in Austria. I have never had a chance before to watch an event live, although for most Austrians (including myself), it's a must-see event on TV.

For those of you who are not familiar with ski-jumping, here's the short version: The name pretty much says it all: People jump on skis. And pretty far too. In Bishofshofen they jump up to 140 meters (420 feet). It is really very impressive. The jumpers are actually in the air for several seconds. 140 meters is a very long way to jump.

The competition this year was very interesting with Jakub Janda (Czech Republic) and Janne Ahonnen (Finland) actually finishing tied after the 4 events that make up the tournament. This was a first in tournament history. Normally, Austrians are pretty good at this too, but this year, they did very badly. I think the best Austrian (Thomas Morgenstern if memory serves me correctly) was 7th or so. They didn't do so well in the first 3 events either, so there weren't quite as many people there as in other years, but it was still pretty packed.

Here are some pictures. The first one shows the bottom part of the jump, which is really all you can see as a spectator. They athletes jump off just a bit out of sight and come flying down to where the red lines are:

The following photo shows Janne Ahonnen, the superstar of ski jumping. Unfortunately, it already got dark and I really need a better zoom, so it is hard to see him. Hence the arrow ;-)

Compare this picture with the first picture to get a sense for the size of the hill.

This is def. one of those sports where you can see things better on TV than on site. But not by much, actually. It def. is not nearly as bad as watching a car race. I really enjoyed it. If you ever have the chance to see a ski jumping competition live, go for it! It is quite spectacular.

The same evening, we also went to see an ice hockey game. We like watching hockey, especially because I used to play myself, and it is like going back to see my old team. And our team kicks butt! They won that evening, although it ended up as a relatively close game. It's a lot more fun when your team wins ;-)  (As we learned the hard way at another game)

This was a fun day. Unfortunately, it also was rather cold. In fact, normally, we are cold at the ice hockey stadium, but this time, it was actually rather warm there compared to the ski jumping. Nevertheless, I ended up getting sick afterwards, and even today, more than two weeks later, I am still not over it...

Posted @ 4:58 PM by Egger, Markus ( -
Comments (28)

Thursday, January 05, 2006
A Quick Sledding Run

I am falling behind a bit with my posts, but here is a quick tidbit from last year (the last day of last year, to be exact). One of the things people do in Austria that in the US would be considered a children's thing is sledding. Of course, adults do not walk up a little hill to slide down on their butts for 30 feet. Instead, one usually engages in a fairly lengthy hike (anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours) to get up a mountain. At the top, there usually is a cabin with some food, drinks, and much celebration (the main reason people usually go sledding). Then, one rents a sled for a few bucks and sleds down a trail that is set aside especially for this purpose (generally lit at night).

So this is what we did the afternoon of December 31st. We didn't have much time, so there was no partying at the top (which was a bummer, because we even met some friends on the way up). But it was a gorgeous day and we had a great time (and got some good exercise on top of it!).

Here are some pictures:

This is the view back down from the path going up. It is quite a nice area. Looks pretty remote to, but I guess that's just how things are here. It is really not that far from town. Somewhere in the hills in the distance (kinda halfway back) is where Dieter Matteschitz, the inventor and owner of Red Bull, lives. He moved here a little while ago.

This is at the very top. As you can see, we left too late in the day and a lot of things were already in the shade. Still, it was very very nice.

And here is Ellen on the way down. Like a real champ! Long gone are the days when she used to do flips with the sled... ;-)

Posted @ 7:04 PM by Egger, Markus ( -
Comments (20)








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