For most of the year much of the Dolomites is a quiet place. The villages have grown from ancient rural farming communities and many still enjoy a quiet and traditional life here. The fiercely proud Ladin culture is protected through language and architectural traditions. Set against all this the tourism industry can seem a little bit of a circus, and never is this more notable than when the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup comes to town.
FIS Ski World Cup
The main event in Alta Badia is the giant slalom on the famous Gran Risa slope in La Villa. The streets are packed as those without entry to the temporary stadium set up at the finish line search for a viewpoint and soak up the atmosphere. The weather is clear and crisp but cold, numerous tents selling mulled wine form busy focal points for the spectators. Occasional cheers and applause are heard as the racers complete their ferocious adrenaline fuelled runs.
The racing culminates in the parallel slalom, a short and frenetic head to head race under the floodlights. This format is particularly suited to exciting a live crowd, the music is loud, the lights are bright and the assembled spectators thrive off the energy of the event. The presentations follow, along with live bands and a party atmosphere that continues into the night.
It is testament to the governance of the area that all this goes on without a concrete tower block hotel in sight. The ability to maintain tradition and identity in the face of the juggernaut ski industry is laudable, but on world cup weekend the Alta Badia shows it can still throw a great party.