Linda Salamone's Blog

Monday, August 11, 2008

Friday August 1st we did have another task on the last day at the World Meet. I was pretty stoked, feeling strong and determined to put a few of these girls behind me on courseline. All my equipment and back issues were behind me, and I knew I finally had a handle on the type of flying required for these mountains. I launched and got up quickly and had lots of company. Everyone was playing nicely today and we waited for the start clock. I kept an eye on Jamie, of course, and tried to leave the safety of Monte Cucco launch but things weren't as lifty on course. We would leave in small groups and then run back to the OD that was behind the mountain. Nicole was playing pieces of Jason Mraz's song over the radio and that was getting me into the groove. Finally the race was on and everyone went on a huge long glide towards the windmills to the south. We were just a couple of hundred feet over the ridge there and a few girls cracked steep banked turns and then had a million gliders to deal with. It was a gnarly snaky strong climb and everyone was desperately trying to get high in it. Lisa called that she had seen lighting behind Monte Cucco but we were moving well away from that (and towards another interesting Marge Simpson coif). I saw Lisa doing a little better away from the bunch near the windmills and I joined her. Soon the two climbs came together but Lisa was reluctant to duke it out in heavy traffic. Seeing that she was going to be left behind I told her "embrace the gaggle!!!" and so she did- she came in with us and now we were all screaming upward and it was looking like a good race would be on... until it STOPPED! I saw legs come out of harnesses and start bicycling and damn!!!! It's over!!!! A minute later as I headed out into the clear valley I got word from Francesco that the day was called. Oh wow, what a way to end. All fired up and nowhere to go with it... I stuffed the bar and flew towards Sigillo faster than I have ever flown before- 66mph was what I came up with. It was smooth and easy except I couldnt rock down low enough with my head (adjustment needed for sure). I have just never stuffed the bar like that for so long and it felt really good. I gotta say, my glider has been flying so sweetly since I have been here and besides the zipper issues and Italian-style landings, overall I am very happy with my equipment. I never had radio issues either- thanks to Jeremy Swerdlow- I will be praising that guy forever because that's how long that PTT he made is going to last. Also, my vario was working perfectly thanks to Steve "who's your daddy" Kroop... after several comps with little quirks.
Anyhow, I went and landed- no so great again even though there was wind in the LZ. But lots of traffic and I had a rigid coming in around the same time. The smiles and celebrations in the LZ were incredible, champagne poured on Alex and Corinna and Manfred. I was so glad to be there but so sorry it was all over.
The dinner and party that night at the Dominus were great, dancing until the wee hours. The chick they had half naked doing a table dance all night was a little weird given that it was also the Women's Worlds. Like where's the half naked guy??? In the morning we all got ready for the closing ceremony and of course we were all there at 10am but it didn't start until after 11am... Italian style, you know? We roasted while we waited and tried to find water for a few slightly dehydrated people....
Then the ceremony, lots of yakking, great outfits on the Germans and Italians... (wish the US team had sponsorship!!!) and lots of pictures. Then it was all over and we had to go pack our stuff. Lisa wanted to test fly a Laminar so with help from the Italians, once again, we got our gliders short packed and she had a sweet flight on a new Icaro glider.
Leaving Italy was one of the hardest things for me to do. I fell in love with the place, and the people and the flying. I know it will be a while before I am back there, but it left such a mark on me, I know it won't be too long.
If I could do it over, there are a few things I would do differently. First- I would have my equipment (harness) in tip top shape. Second, I would fly the area before hand- for a week or two. The type of flying is unlike anything I have experienced in the US- just different air and features. High pressure in Italy makes for really good flying, unlike here where it kills the lift low. Lots to learn about all of this- next time I would definitely insist on flying the area first for a while. The Pre-Worlds makes that possible for the men, but of course, this meet had difficulties getting organized initially and there was no time for a Pre-meet. As far as the organization goes- Flavio Tibaldi and Corinna did a great job with everything. It was first class and top-notch. I was so impressed- and I see how much should go into such an event. Third- we need a full team. And fourth- SPONSORSHIP. Obviously those two may be connected. I know that Kari and Lauren would have been there representing the US if not for the huge financial burden. Team flying is essential to reach goal quickly. I was flying alone mostly, as usual, and pretty slow. The Foundation for Free Flight graciously covered our entry fees and we sold a lot a T-shirts. Thanks to everyone who bought them and then made donations above and beyond the cost. Thanks to Roger Baker for such an easy to sell design! But still, I will be in debt for a little while and it was difficult to watch the other teams with many of those financial problems solved. Also I would never have been able to do it if my boss wasn't so generous and I knew I left my kids/pets/ and house in Mark's and Karin's capable hands. I was lucky to have a few contacts in Italy to facilitate the logistics. Mario Luppa was responsible for my cell phone and the hotel accommodations (plus his wife made certain I didn't get lost and led me to the hotel late that first night) and he really picked the right place at the right price. Marco at the Dominus was a delight- the atmosphere and the food there was phenomenal. New friends- Domenico the nut-job, Timothy Ettridge, Nicole- what can I say about Nicole??? Wow, she was such a bright spot and a good friend and a great driver and I can't wait to see her again and she left such a mark on me. And Lisa, my teammate- she was so encouraging and upbeat and capable and we forged an unexpected bond. Amazing women. The three of us had laughs unmatched in my life- c'mon- the ROOSTER, the dirty dancing with an unseen audience, the glass recycler at 6am!!!! What an incredible experience. I am forever changed. I need to stop now.


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