MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 13 - Today was an off day for Ducati Marlboro teammates Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi and they took advantage of it by hitting the ski slopes on the Dolomites here at Wrooom 2011.
Of the two, Rossi is the more experienced on the snow, but there was some question about whether he'd be able to showcase his snowboarding skills. With the recovery of his surgically repaired right shoulder going more slowly than had been hoped, there was some concern that he could re-injure it with a fall on the slopes. The nine-time world champion did an exploratory run on Wednesday, dressed in his own ski gear and not team colors. Having passed that test, he was back out today, only this time in a red Ducati Marlboro jacket, though not the one issued to the rest of the Ducati personnel on hand.
Hayden had virtually no skiing experience before coming here two years ago, but he proved a quick study. And though this is the only time of the year that he skis, he's taken to it with some enthusiasm. And his form, according to those who have skied with him, has dramatically improved.
Hayden will represent the team in both of the events on Friday, the final day of the team intros that is Wrooom 2011. First up is the ski race, which kicks off from the Fiat Chalet. Hayden gamely snow plowed through the first few gates his first year, just long enough for the photographers to snap pictures. Last year he went down the full length of the course.
Late in the afternoon he'll strap on his helmet and square off against the Ferrari Formula One drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, as well as a few others in a pair of races on a frozen lake in the middle of town. Hayden began the frigid night last year by finishing second to Massa in the Fiat Panda 4x4 race. He followed that up by running away with the final event of the week, the go-kart race, a feat he'd certainly like to repeat.