It took a few days. If instead of catching Covid-19 in October, I had waited until the end of November, that is to say less than three months before my departure for Cortina d’Ampezzo, I would have dodged a good part of the protocol health precaution implemented by the organizers of the Alpine Skiing World Championships. But in a sport where medals are sometimes played to the nearest hundredth of a second, a few days are an eternity and I was treated to the full menu, aperitifs to the cakes.
I am writing this text from the press center, which is accessed after going through a full disinfection booth which is the last sanitary formality to be completed before getting down to work. A two-minute walk away is the Rumerlo finish area where, soon, the participants will tumble into the women’s super-G, the first round of the event after the postponements of the women’s combined and men’s super-G to meteorologically better days. . Nothing can stop me from being there anymore. Whether I will be there tomorrow is another story. But let’s start from the beginning.
Double the PCR tests
To save its competitions at the time of the pandemic, alpine skiing has curled up in its snow globe (winter version of the famous “bubble”) by carefully checking that whoever enters it does not bring the crowned demon. Access to World Cup events has been strict since the start of the season. The one at the World Championships is all the more so as all the athletes are there, women, men, technicians, speed specialists – and, with them, their staffs and number of officials. There are also more media representatives, although they are less numerous than in a classic edition.
To do so, we had to organize ourselves. Before even taking the (long) road to Cortina d’Ampezzo, I had to pass two PCR tests. The first eight to ten days before departure, the second 72 hours at the latest before arriving on site. Fortunately, they turned out to be negative. I admit that I did not worry too much: my Covidian liabilities associated with an assiduous practice of teleworking and to the least limited social contacts lately let me approach nasal smears with the serenity of Marco Odermatt in the departure gate. (Even if I admit that I turned a bit pale when I was asked if I “used to bleed” during the test…)
In addition to presenting these favorable results, I had to fill out various health and travel questionnaires during the fourteen days preceding my trip and give them to the organizers, as well as the address of my hotel for my stay.
A tracking box as an alarm clock
When arriving in the Dolomites, the instructions were clear: before check-in, you had to go through one of the two screening centers specially set up for the event, in this case at Fiames, five kilometers north of the city. . For a new test, “fast” this one failing to be more pleasant than the others. “You never get used to it,” the blood sample worker told me, smiling – yes, I’m sure – under her mask.
Last step before putting down your bags: the passage to the accreditation center, where it is still a question of signing a document committing to respect all the instructions and where I am given a small geolocation box with a cable for reload it. “When you get to the press center or the race finish area, you have to turn it on and if you find yourself within a meter of another person, it will ring and vibrate to tell you to remove.”
(It hasn’t happened yet. Except that night, when the thingy and I were sleeping in my room, both turned off. I don’t know yet if this device will be effective in the fight against the virus, but I can already tell you that it works perfectly as an alarm clock.)
The aperitif is postponed
All these formalities fulfilled, there was nothing more than to get used to life in Cortina d’Ampezzo, which is not very different from that of Yverdon-les-Bains these days. In town, most stores remain closed even though bars and restaurants have been authorized for a few days to open during the day, until 6 p.m. With a 10 p.m. curfew, the many riflemen patrolling the resort enforce strict compliance, the context lends itself little to the unfolding of the favorite event for journalists in ski reporting: the end-of-day aperitif (in moderation of course).
At least the races can take place, and we are allowed to attend them, unlike the fans who will not come to fill the stands installed in the finish area of Rumerlo. After their passage on the snow, the athletes will parade as usual in the mixed zone, and we journalists will hurry to capture their reactions. It may ring and vibrate in the pockets.
And then, tomorrow, it will already be time to go for a new screening test. This will be the case every three days, until it is time to leave Cortina d’Ampezzo.