After a long walk beside the track, Giancarlo Torriani reached the starting area of the St. Moritz Olympia Bob Run for a well-deserved coffee break.
No one knows the track better than Torriani, a former Swiss bobsleigh champion who grew up near St. Moritz and the iconic venue that has previously hosted two Winter Games.
He knows all the curves and edges of the world’s oldest bobsleigh track that is hosting the sliding events at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics Games.
Swiss bobsleigh champion in 1972 and president of the Swiss Sliding Federation from 1988-1998, the 72-year-old Torriani is now working as a volunteer at the bobsleigh venue for the Games.
“The track is built from natural ice, which is unique. It is being built every winter by a team of 15 workers from South Tyrol,” Torriani said, referring to the mountainous region of northeast Italy.
“One of them, Alfred, always carries a little notebook with him. It contains all sorts of secrets about the building process. Nobody other than him is allowed to see it, not even his son who is also one of the workers.”
Athletes enter a labyrinth of curves right after flying through the infamous Horse Shoe Corner. Sliding down at dazzling speeds, they experience powerful G-forces that can push their sleds up the sides of the track.
“Everybody is a little bit afraid of the Horse Shoe. I always visualised the run beforehand,” said Torriani. “I would even dream about it and picture myself sliding down the track. It is truly one of the best experiences ever.”
With bobsleigh, skeleton and luge competitions sometimes decided by milliseconds, Torriani recalls how officials would have to phone each other to write down the final results.
“That is why one of the curves is named the Telephone Corner,” he said. “Somebody would have to call up an official at the Sunny Club, a church-like building located in the middle of the track, to confirm the intermediary times.”
While his coffee was being brewed in the small cafe near the start line, Torriani said he could not wait for the sliding events to begin at his “second home’’.
“We can show the world that we are capable of hosting the Games without having to spend millions of euros,” he said. “Everything at the venue is in place to truly make it a memorable competition for all of the athletes.”