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Junior Freeride Tour Verbier Ski Diary

[unitegallery CombeVerbier]

February, the beginning of the Junior Freeride season in Verbier, Switzerland! 46 competitors were announced, and this equation accompanied by fog, rain and little snow equalled tough conditions!

The evening prior the competition started off on a good note, inside of the small and cozy Dzardy’s Bar & Backpackers. With free live music (between 16h30 and 01h30), a welcoming manager, soft lighting, and sofas perfect for relaxing – the atmosphere was friendly. This in addition to a wine bar, tapas, and cost effective dorms, it had everything I needed for a happy stay!

Also something which was practical & convenient, was the cable car from Verbier to Chable – connecting the hotel to the face of the competition.

And so the first free ride junior tour competition of the year kicked-off in Verbier, Switzerland…

 

COMPETITION SCHEDULE

FRIDAY: ARRIVAL
Upon  arrival  in Verbier, snow was falling - a fine white dust covered everything. The mountain atmosphere was palpable.
COMPETITION DAY / 6AM
The morning was tough, after having spent 8 hours the previous day on the train and bus. First off, albeit feeling half asleep was breakfast, and my nerves started to kick in. (That ball in the stomach feeling, which never left me the entire day, that is 9 hours later after my run). The fog was so dense all my efforts seemed in vain. And to make it worse, it began to rain (1500 metres above sea level). However it didn't seem to bother the race committee, and they sent us to the start...
COMPETITION DAY / 10AM
The competition should have been underway, but we still had no luck due to the severe fog! We waited, 10, 20, 30 minutes, then one hour. Slowly, we began to lose hope! And then something unusual happened, the organisers, they encouraged us to ski our line, but just for fun!
COMPETITION DAY / 2PM
At this stage we were in a mountain restaurant trying to dry our wet clothes! The ambience was plain miserable - none of us wanting this event to officially be cancelled. And then suddenly the weather forecast changed. We were no doubt elated! Minutes later bib number 1 was called, and he was off. I momentarily panicked (I didn't want to miss my start), and grabbed my skis, immediately heading to the start. A fair number of riders had gone through, but the order of numbers no longer mattered, for some had given up and gone home. In line the pressure escalated, and an official, Arnaud made conversation with me, to ease the pressure. It was so nice of him, and it worked! The rider right before me fell on the cliff I wanted to jump, and so my stress again doubled. And finally there under the starting arch, my season began. I felt good as I dropped in line. As planned I took to the right towards a small rocky ledge, which lead me to a surprise of deep powder. It was terrific! I loved and enjoyed the moment before having to concentrate on the remainder of my run. I directed myself towards my jump (the tricky cliff where the guy fell), and landed perfectly. I skied to the next set of jumps but unfortunately flew over the roots of a tree, and landed badly, losing many points. Following this the rest of my run was smooth. I finally made it to the bottom of my run, utterly breathless!
COMPETITION DAY / END
Turns out I finished 22/49, which is not as good as I had hoped, but fairly decent. I would like to say a special thanks to Arnaud who helped me de-stress at the start, and as always my sponsors. To conclude I would love to highlight the surrounding great atmosphere of the competition, and the excellent organisation, and friendly riders - thank you to all. See you in Chamonix for the next stage of the junior free ride tour. Take care!

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