Monday, February 05, 2007

Skis with Guns

Just back from Vienna and unfortunately I don't have time to go into detail on the weekend just yet. So I think it might be best to remain silent on the city itself until I get such a chance. The World Skiing Championships are taking place all over the place at the moment, everywhere from Davos, in Switzerland (more famous for gatherings of filthy capitalists) to Are, in Sweden. In a devilish piece of deception, the Alpine events are taking place in Sweden and the Nordic ones in Switzerland. And they're both neutral countries too, which makes it all the more confusing. Anyway it was big news in Austria and most of the German-language Eurosport coverage was devoted to it, though they did have a bit of time for the Malta Cup snooker tournament.

I was particularly interested by the biathlon, which, on first reflection seems like a bizarre sport, involving a combination of skiing and shooting. But of course, that is where the origins of skiing lie, in hunting. I was also reminded of those tales I learned in history class in National School of the plucky Finns who held out for months against the Red Army in 1940 using ski-marksmen as their prime weapon. So I was a bit disheartened when I discovered that the shooting was all done at still targets just off the piste; surely a more interesting sport would be having the competitors shoot at one another, if even in a non-fatal, paintball-type way. Anything that might bring the leisure-industry cachet of skiing down a bit would be welcome. Give it back to the mountain-men and women.