The train that takes you from Tasch to Zermatt has a space up front for ski carts and big luggage. I set my ski bag, all 60 lbs, in the corner and took my seat. For the next 10 minutes, I watched the unstable, giant bag rock back and forth as the train weaved left then right, ascending toward the tiny, car-less town that plays host to the 2013 Swatch Skiers Cup. My flight left the Reno Airport Friday morning at 5 a.m. PST. A layover in San Francisco, a storm-dodging flight to Washington D.C., a skip across the ocean, and I finally landed in Geneva on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. Swiss chocolate making time. Two trains later, here I am, jet-lagged, dehydrated, and watching my ski bag sway, wondering if it’s going to fall over and crush the delicate object across the aisle—a baby sleeping in a stroller. Welcome to Switzerland.

On the left, a 60 lb ski bag. On the right, a sleeping Swiss baby. Thankfully this baby was not crushed. The same will not be said for the venue after tomorrow. PHOTO: MIKE ROGGE

I’m here as a judge and a journalist, a skier and a traveler for the 2013 Swatch Skiers Cup. The annual event puts two teams—Team Americas and Team Europe—against one another in two head-to-head days of big mountain madness. Team Europe, captained by constant good timer Kaj Zackrisson, won two years ago in South America. Last year, Cody Townsend’s Team Americas took the victory. This year, it’s anybody’s game.

The conditions are superb, with deep, stable snow piling up Alaska-like spines for tomorrow’s big mountain day. “I am bummed I will not be skiing with you tomorrow,” joked Head Guide Samuel Anthamatten in the rider’s meeting this evening. Townsend, who skied the face today, called the venue “the best run I’ve ever had in Europe.” The teams are stacked (see below), the mountain is looking great, current Freeride World Tour points leader Drew Tabke is my roommate (we’re going to do karate in the garage), and unlike the ski bag with the baby on the train, these guys are going to crush it.

Team Americas
Cody Townsend – Captain
K.C. Deane
Rory Bushfield
Charley Ager
Josh Daiek
Logan Imlach
Timy Dutton
Greg Lindsey

Team Europe
Kaj Zackrisson – Captain
Sverre Lillequsit
Markus Eider
Richard Permin
Nicholas Vulgnier
Paddy Graham
Fabio Studer
Sam Favret